Emergency services and local councils across Cumbria are gearing up for what is traditionally the busiest time of the year. Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service (CFRS) is asking the residents and communities of Cumbria to consider their safety ahead of the bonfire night celebrations in the coming weeks.
Watch Manager for Prevention, Edward Burrows, said: “Safety is our main consideration and we are encouraging members of the public to attend a safely organised bonfire and firework display , reducing the risk of any accidents or injuries. When emergency services are called to attend unsafe bonfires or avoidable fire vandalism it means they may have to be diverted away from life threatening accidents and emergencies with potentially tragic consequences.”
Many local authorities, schools and community groups hold firework displays to mark certain occasions and they are a great place to enjoy the fun safely. They are often free of charge and many raise money for local charities. Fireworks can be expensive – you’re likely to get more dazzle and bang at an organised event.
Enjoying the fireworks in your local park with your local community – sharing the ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ in the crowd – can be a great way of getting together, meeting with your friends and neighbours and sharing in your local community spirit. But remember to take a torch along with you and make sure children wear bright clothes so they can be easily seen.
Hosting a fireworks party
If you have a safe place to do so and want to celebrate with fireworks in the comfort of your own garden or on other private land (with the landowner’s permission), there’s nothing to stop you and there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy a great evening. But remember that both you and your guests will need to take care.
These tips are to help you think about and prepare for a fun and safe celebration at home.
Fireworks must be stored safely, in a closed box, somewhere cool and dry, out of reach of children and animals, until the time they are needed. Don’t keep the box under the stairs or in a passageway.
Do you have a large enough space to let fireworks off safely? Each firework should have a minimum safety distance marked on it.
Be considerate to your neighbours: warn them beforehand so they can take in their washing, close windows, keep their pets indoors and, if necessary, take other precautions.
Only buy fireworks from reputable dealers. The fireworks should have the product safety marking BS7114 or equivalent and carry a CE mark.
Fireworks must only be handled and lit by responsible adults.
Alcohol and fire don’t mix – nor do alcohol and fireworks.
Keep fireworks in a closed box well away from the bonfire or any other sources of heat or fire.
Follow the instructions on each firework. Different fireworks can present different hazards and so the instructions vary.
Use a torch if you read the instructions in the dark – do not use a naked flame.
Let fireworks off one at a time.
Do not throw fireworks – it is highly dangerous.
Light them at arm’s length, using a taper.
Never play with fireworks – they are explosives and can hurt you.
When you are watching fireworks, stand well back.
Never go near a firework that has been lit. Even if it hasn’t gone off, it could still explode.
Hold sparklers one at a time in gloved hands at arm’s length. When the sparkler goes out, it is still very hot so discard it in a bucket of water.
Never leave matches or lighters lying around.
We recommend that you do not use sky lanterns as you have no control over them once they’ve been set off. They can kill animals, litter the countryside and start fires. If you do choose to set them off, always follow the manufacturers’ guidance/instructions carefully.
Pick up the spent firework cases – they can still be dangerous. Look for fireworks with a torch. Use tongs or some other suitable tool and wear heatproof gloves.
Don’t allow children to collect firework cases.
If a firework looks like it hasn’t gone off after at least half an hour, soak it in water to prevent it reigniting.
Having a bonfire or beacon
A bonfire or beacon are great ways to celebrate Bonfire Night and other events, but do follow these safety tips:
You can’t get rid of household waste on the bonfire – it can cause pollution or harm people’s health. You should always burn dry material as it produces less smoke. Never burn treated wood, rubber, plastic, foam or paint.
Build your bonfire well clear of buildings, roads, garden sheds, fences, trees and hedges and, if possible, choose somewhere sheltered from the wind to minimise the risk of the bonfire being blown out of control or smoke restricting the vision of road users.
Check there are no cables – like telephone wires – above the bonfire.
Before you light the bonfire, check whether any pets, wildlife or small children have crawled inside.
Always keep a bucket of water or a working hosepipe nearby.
Never use flammable liquids to start a bonfire and never throw on fireworks or burn dangerous items such as aerosol cans, paint tins, foam furniture or batteries.
Don’t leave bonfires unattended and keep children and pets away. A responsible adult should supervise the bonfire until it has burnt out.
Once the bonfire has died down, pour water on the embers to stop it reigniting.
Edward Burrows adds: “Fire, fireworks and alcohol can be a very dangerous combination at garden and street parties. This year we want bonfire night to be one of the safest on record and therefore we are asking members of the public who are thinking of holding their own bonfire or firework display to consider attending an organised display instead. These events are generally safer and more spectacular and therefore more enjoyable for friends and families. However you decide to celebrate, following these tips and guidance will help ensure everyone has a good time and stays safe.”