Fireworks and bonfire safety
The number of firework injuries has risen dramatically in recent years. The safest place to enjoy fireworks is at an organised display. But if you are having your own display follow these simple tips to ensure a fun and safe evening.
- Never buy fireworks from anywhere you're not sure about, like a van or a temporary, unlicensed market stall.
- Only buy fireworks marked BS 7114 or with a CE mark - this shows that the firework meets British or European safety standards - a reputable shop will know this.
- Make sure you read and understand the instructions on each firework carefully in daylight or by torchlight, never by a naked flame.
- Make suitable supports and launchers if you're setting off Catherine wheels or rockets.
- Have you got the following things together?
a) A closed metal box to store the fireworks - take them out one at a time.
b) A bucket of water - to cool sparklers and put out any small fires.
c) Eye protection and gloves.
d) A bucket of earth to stick fireworks in.
- It is best to only have one person to let off fireworks; they shouldn’t drink, they should make sure everyone else stands well back and use a tape to light the fireworks at arm’s length.
- Never go back to a firework that has been lit - even if it hasn't gone off it could still explode.
- Never throw fireworks on a bonfire, put them in your pocket or throw them.
- Have you told your neighbours you are going to let off fireworks? Are all pets safe inside?
- Make sure you always supervise children with sparklers and never give them to a child under five, they should wear gloves and sparklers should be lit one at a time.
- Put used sparklers hot end down into a bucket of sand or water.
Thanks to East Sussex Fire and Rescue service for the above information.
The Firework Code
You can get more information about Firework Safety, including the Firework Code from the Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA) safer fireworks website
Our trading standards officers say 'no ID no sale' to fireworks traders.
The Fireworks Regulations 2004 prohibit anyone under 18 from possessing fireworks, and anyone except professionals possessing display fireworks. These regulations also prohibit the use of fireworks at night (11pm-7am) with extensions for the following festivals:
- Until 1am on the night of the Chinese New Year
- Until 1am on the night of Diwali
- Until 1am on New Year's Eve
- Until midnight on 5 November
These regulations are enforced by the police and not the local council. There is a penalty of up to £5,000 or six months in prison for breach of these regulations.
More information can be found on the gov.uk fireworks safety and the law page.
- Never leave a bonfire unattended
- Avoid having them on a day affected by industrial action and at a time least likely to affect your neighbours
- Have you told your neighbours beforehand? They are much less likely to complain or to alert the fire service
- Make sure you build the bonfire away from sheds, fences and trees and check there are no cables - like telephone wires - above the bonfire
- Never use petrol or paraffin to get the fire going - it may get out of control quickly
- Have you got a bucket of water or a garden hose nearby in case of emergencies?
- Have you made sure children and pets can’t get near it?
- Don't burn aerosols, tyres, canisters or anything containing foam or paint - many produce toxic fumes and some containers may explode, causing injury
- Take care around bonfires - all clothes, even those labelled ‘low flammability' - can catch fire
- Once the bonfire has died down, spray the embers with water to stop it reigniting
More information on domestic and commercial bonfires and smoke control can be found on our bonfires and smoke page.