Bonfire night is very special to my family. We always skip the big show at the park in favour of our own display. It’s a chance for everyone to get together in the garden; wrapped up in coats, hats and scarves. There’ll be a large pot of chilli in the kitchen to keep everyone warm; why chilli I’m not sure, but it’s always there. Rockets and fountains are set off to variable oohs and ahhs. It’s a night of big thrills and traditions and a night when it’s very important to keep safety in mind. Fond memories of bonfire night can soon be tarnished when mistakes are made. Below are some important tips on staying safe alongside my family experience of bonfire night; I hope they inspire you to try your own party and create some memories of your own.
The bonfire was always a central element of our family firework night. Earlier that day we’d stuff an old pair of pyjamas with newspaper; maybe even making a Papier-mache head to complete the Guy that would stand in the fire. Getting the kids involved with these elements is a fantastic way of engaging them with some English history. Though thrilling to watch and gather around, a bonfire has the potential to be very dangerous and needs to be set up correctly. To enjoy a safe bonfire follow these 8 simple tips:
- Keep an eye on the weather. The wind is the main cause for concern as sparks and embers can drift on the wind and start a fire.
- Position your bonfire somewhere central with room to move around the entire perimeter, away from wooden fences, foliage or garden furniture.
- If you do not have a dedicated fire bowl, pit or bin create a circle of bricks or stones to contain the flames and build within that circle.
- Build your fire up layer by layer in a teepee shape using twigs, kindling and logs. You can also make use of a firelog; a safer way to add some heat and structure.
- One person should be responsible for the bonfire so that it’s always being supervised. It’s fine to get kids involved helping out but never leave children to supervise a fire alone.
- Never use lighter fluids to help the fire along.
- Keep a bucket of water or sand handy in case of any accidents.
- After your party pour a bucket of water over the fire. Do not leave it to go out by itself.
Soon it’s time to move on to the fireworks. In my family, we would have boxes of fireworks open in the conservatory. All of the kids will pick a firework they want to be lit next and hand it over to the parents who would take it into the garden to set up. This is great for getting the kids involved in a safe way as they never need to come into the area where the fireworks are actually being lit. Just make sure there is someone there supervising the selection of the fireworks. The fireworks are bonfire night tradition but they’re also the most dangerous thing you’ll use. Remember that you are dealing with explosives and as such, they need to be treated with care and attention. To make sure everyone enjoys your firework display follow these 6 simple guidelines.
- All fireworks are categorised from F1-F4. The higher the number the more hazardous a firework is. For the purposes of a garden firework display, you should purchase fireworks categorised as F1 or F2. Anything higher than this is for professional use only.
- Plan your firework display with the items you would like to begin and end with, aiming to finish your display before 11 pm.
- Make sure you have a place to position and ignite your fireworks at least 8m from the nearest spectator.
- Read the instructions of each firework before using.
- Light each firework at arm’s length with a taper, standing well back. Never return to a firework once it’s been lit.
- Do not allow children to light or carry fireworks and never leave fireworks unattended with children around.
Towards the end of our family display, everyone would be given a sparkler and the frantic waving would commence as people attempted to write their names in sparkles. Poor cousin Jennifer never made it past the second n. You can try capturing these moments on camera; you can get some fantastic effects with the streaks of light caught in a photo. To make sure everyone enjoys their sparklers fully, use our 4 simple guidelines below:
- Make sure young children only use sparklers with full adult supervision
- Wear gloves when handling sparklers
- Hold sparklers at arm’s length and away from the face
- When a sparkler has finished put in a bucket of cold water
Don’t Forget The Pets
Let’s remember our furry friends this time of year. Though firework season is a great time for us humans, it can be a scary time for pets. We would often find our dog hiding under the bed as soon as the fireworks started going off. But then our cat seemed fascinated by them and would sit happily watching them on the windowsill. A few simple steps can help reduce some pet stress and even if your pet doesn’t seem to mind, it’s a good precaution. See our 4 tips below:
- Lots of pet stores will sell chemical plugins or collars that can help keep your pet calm.
- You can play prerecorded sound effects of fireworks and loud noises in the run-up to bonfire night. Playing them quietly can help get pets more used to the sound of fireworks.
- Make sure your cats and dogs have an area within the house they can retreat to if they feel nervous or overwhelmed. A quiet bedroom with comfy bedding and some favourite treats and toys can take a pet’s mind off the loud bangs outside!
- If you have smaller pets in an outside hutch consider bringing them inside for the week around firework night. A quiet room will likely be appreciated.
Share your bonfire night celebration with us on Instagram! Tag us with @primrose.co.uk and we might feature your photos on the Primrose feed.
Scott is a copywriter currently making content for the Primrose site and blog. When at his desk he’s thinking of new ways to describe a garden bench. Away from his desk he’s either looking at photos of dogs or worrying about the environment. He does nothing else, just those two things.