Safety tips for bonfire night at home 

Bonfire Night serves as a reminder of the historical events surrounding the thwarted Gunpowder Plot of 1605, when Guy Fawkes and a group of conspirators attempted to explode the House of Parliament in a bid to reinstate Catholic rule in England. Thankfully, their plan was uncovered, to the relief of King James I, the intended target. This led to the establishment of November 5th as a National Day of Celebration in the United Kingdom, which was obligatory until 1959. 

Today, the focus of Bonfire Night has shifted towards the gathering of people around warming bonfires, the enchanting display of fireworks illuminating the night sky, and the indulgence in delightful treats. However, the safety of children and adults during these festivities remains of paramount importance, whether you are at a public event or celebrating in your own backyard. Here are our exclusive recommendations for ensuring the safety of children during Bonfire Night celebrations, tailored for our fostering agency’s unique perspective. 

Firework Safety: Children should never be allowed to handle fireworks, as they can be extremely hazardous. Only trustworthy adults should manage fireworks. When a firework is ignited, it’s essential to maintain a safe distance and appreciate the brilliant display from afar. 

Secure Flammables: Adolescents, including foster children in our care, may feel a need to test boundaries, stemming from previous experiences of neglect. This inclination might lead them to consider setting off fireworks at home or school, which poses serious risks. In the days leading up to Bonfire Night, take precautions to lock away firelighters, fireworks, and sparklers, ensuring they are out of reach to prevent unintended mishaps. 

Sparkler Precautions: Sparklers, while captivating, can be dangerous if mishandled. Those holding sparklers should wear protective gloves and keep them well away from people’s faces. Ensure proper disposal by submerging them in water or sand. 

Bonfire Safety: Position bonfires well away from trees, fences, and sheds, and establish a clear safety cordon around them. Even if planning a modest backyard bonfire, it’s crucial to recognize that fires can quickly escalate. Explore local options for public bonfires supervised by safety professionals. 

Maintain Safe Distances: If your garden allows for bonfires and fireworks, ensure that everyone stands at a safe distance, with constant supervision of children. 

Preparedness: While it might sound dramatic, it’s prudent to be prepared for the unexpected. Have fire extinguishers, buckets of water, and buckets of sand on standby in case of any mishaps. 

Alcohol-Free Celebrations: Prioritize safety by abstaining from alcohol during the festivities. Mixing alcohol with fireworks and open flames is not a responsible choice. Opt for delicious non-alcoholic beverages like hot chocolate instead. 

Consider Children’s Comfort: Bonfire Night is no longer a mandatory celebration, and you can decide as a family whether to partake. Some children, especially those with unique needs, such as autism or those in foster care with past trauma, may find Bonfire Night distressing. The loud and unpredictable sounds of fireworks could trigger traumatic memories, or children with sensory sensitivities may experience overload from the various stimuli. It’s perfectly acceptable to consider alternative arrangements or communicate with neighbours regarding their plans for fireworks to ensure a safe and comfortable environment for your child. 

Safety tips for when you attend a bonfire night event 

Establish a Designated Meeting Point: The thought of losing your child during a bustling crowd is a parent’s worst nightmare. While it may be an unsettling idea, it’s prudent to plan. In the days leading up to the event, familiarize yourself with the venue or park and agree on a meeting place should your child become separated from you. 

Distinct Attire: If your child does become separated, increasing the chances of a swift reunion can be achieved by dressing them in distinctive clothing. Identifiable garments can help others quickly recognize and assist a lost child. 

Bundle Up: Once you’re at your local Bonfire Night celebration, you won’t have the luxury of dashing back indoors for extra blankets if your children start feeling the cold. Therefore, ensure your kids are well-layered with warm clothing before heading out. This will help shield them from the chilly air and prevent colds or discomfort from numbing fingers and toes. 

Headphones for the Little Ones: Bonfire Night festivities can be a sensory overload with the deafening bangs, lively amusement rides, and energetic DJ music. For children under 5, consider equipping them with noise-cancelling headphones. This simple measure can keep them calm and enable them to relish the captivating fireworks display without being overwhelmed by the cacophonous sounds.