the fifth of November,
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
We see no reason why
Should ever be forgot.”
Fireworks will light up the sky and lawns all around the UK will be ablaze with bonfires on the 5th of November this year. Whilst Bonfire Night is sure to be full of fun, there are important procedures you need to follow to ensure your safety and the safety of those around you.
Firstly, why do we celebrate Bonfire Night?
Bonfire Night is celebrated in the UK to remember King James I’s escape from assassination, the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605. Guy Fawkes and thirteen other Catholic conspirators plotted to blow up the Houses of Parliament and King James I for his unfavourable treatment of Catholics following his ascension to the throne. The plot never materialised because Guy Fawkes and his gang were caught mid-act, trialled and found guilty of high treason, resulting in his sentencing to death.
To celebrate his survival, King James I ordered for bonfires to be lit around the whole of London, which soon spread to the rest of England. Until 1959, it was actually illegal not to participate in Bonfire Night celebrations. Contrary to popular belief, Guy Fawkes did not burn to death, yet tradition is still held by burning a ‘Guy Fawkes’ figure on top of a bonfire.
Follow our list of safety tips for Bonfire Night.
1. Refrain from drinking alcohol
Drinking alcohol whilst setting off fireworks not only endangers yourself but it puts others around you in danger too. If you are setting off fireworks you must not do so under the influence of alcohol.
At community bonfire and fireworks displays, spectators must be at least 15m from the fire and fireworks, and the same distance applies to distance aware from buildings, trees and any other objects. When in your back garden it is often difficult to ensure that amount of distance. If you cannot ensure ample distance between the spectators and the fire then you may need to reconsider the scale of your event.
3. Sparkler Safety
Sparklers are a great way to involve older children in Bonfire Night and are very safe when treated in the right manner. Always wear gloves when handling sparkers and you should never give one to a child under 5. Ensure that there is a nearby bucket of water to pop the used sparkler in, as they will still be extremely hot once burned out.
4. Building your bonfire
Ensure that only dried materials make up the anatomy of your bonfire. Wet leaves and soggy sticks will not only increase the difficulty of setting the fire alight, but create copious amounts of smoke, a potential hazard when fireworks are being lit. When gathering your leaves for burning, be sure to check for hidden hedgehogs that may be hiding!
5. Pet safety
The loud bangs as a result of fireworks displays may startle your pets, therefore to avoid them being frightened you should close all windows, curtains and blinds and refrain from taking them out with you past dark. If they get scared and attempt to hide, do not attempt to pull them out, as this will startle them even more.
6. Wrap up warm!
November nights can get awfully cold, and often at Bonfire events there’s a lot of standing still and observing. It is therefore wise to ensure that you wrap up in plenty of layers, thick socks, scarves, hats and jumpers to prevent the onset of a chill. Gloves will also help keep your hands warm, and as mentioned above, are essential when handling sparklers!
7. Accompany children
All children must be accompanied by an adult when handling sparklers and attending bonfires, and are never to be left unattended in the possession of a sparkler.
8. Dampen down the fire
Once the bonfire has died down, spray the embers with water to prevent it from reigniting. Never attempt to dismantle the bonfire on the night that it has been lit – it will still be hot – so always wait until the next day to begin the dismantling stage.
While these are just a few hints and tips to keep you safe this Bonfire Night, it is important that you have fun and enjoy the wonderful displays. If you are hosting a bonfire party of your own, why not make some traditional bonfire treats such as toffee apples or parkin? They are sure to go down well with your guests!