Firework and bonfire safety

Red fireworks

Fireworks often play a big part in celebrations like bonfire night, Diwali and Chinese New Year. However, fireworks are explosives and burn at high temperatures, so they need careful handling and storage. Find out about firework safety and the law about their use.

Figures have shown that more children get hurt by fireworks than adults. If you are thinking of using fireworks as part of your celebrations, you should follow the steps listed below.

Before your firework display

Preparation is key to enjoying fireworks safely, so:

  • don't 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)
  • follow the instructions on each firework - read them in daylight or by torchlight, never by a naked flame
  • make suitable supports and launchers if you're setting off Catherine wheels or rockets

Things you will need on the night

It's easy to get a few household things together, these are:

  • a closed metal box to store the fireworks - take them out one at a time
  • a bucket of water - to cool sparklers and put out any small fires
  • eye protection and gloves
  • a bucket of earth to stick fireworks in

Lighting fireworks

Follow these simple guidelines to stay safe:

  • only one person should be responsible for letting off fireworks
  • don't drink alcohol if you are letting off fireworks
  • light fireworks at arm's length, using a taper
  • make sure everyone stands well back
  • never go back to a firework that has been lit - even if it hasn't gone off it could still explode


Sparklers are fun, but always:

  • supervise children with sparklers and never give them to a child under five
  • light sparklers one at a time and wear gloves
  • put used sparklers hot end down into a bucket of sand or water

Having a bonfire

A bonfire is a great way to celebrate Bonfire Night, but do follow these safety tips:

  • You can’t get rid of household waste on the bonfire if it will 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
  • Warn your neighbours beforehand so they can take in any washing, close windows, keep pets indoors and take other necessary precautions
  • Build your bonfire well clear of buildings, roads, garden sheds, fences, trees and hedges and, if possible, choose somewhere sheltered from wind to minimise the risk of the bonfire being blown out of control or of 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 in case of fire
  • 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

    Other tips on the night

    Finally, follow these other rules for a safe night:

    • keep pets indoors - most animals get very scared by the lights and noise from fireworks
    • never put fireworks in your pocket or throw them
    • never throw spent fireworks on a bonfire
    • take care around bonfires - all clothes, even those labelled 'low flammability', can catch fire

    For more information on putting on a bonfire night celebration, have a look at this community guide to organising bonfires and fireworks