Whether you decide to attend a small family bonfire this November 5th or head to an organised event, remember that although it’s intended to be a fun night for all, it can also be extremely dangerous for animals and humans.
If you’re organising your own bonfire then make sure you're clued up on the dos and dont's of fire safety. If you're not yet, take a look at the handy guide we've complied for you that, if followed correctly, should ensure that your Guy Fawkes Night passes without incident and is enjoyed by everyone involved.
Building the bonfire
You might not think it but the way that you build your bonfire has safety implications. To make sure you're not inadvertently creating a death-trap, take note of the below:
- Make sure that the materials you’re using to build the fire, be it wood, paper, garden waste or other combustible materials, are completely dry before you add them to the pyre. Wet materials won’t light and damp materials cause a lot more smoke to be given off once lit which is not only dangerous but is also a general annoyance for people that live in the nearby area.
- Build any bonfire it away from sheds, outbuildings, trees and fences. That way, if the fire does get out of control, the flammable materials these comprise of are not at risk of catching light and helping the fire spread.
- Ensure that there aren't any electrical cables or telephone wires running above where the bonfire will be situated. Even if you think that your fire couldn't possibly reach the height of any wires and cables, it's better to be safe than sorry as igniting cables carrying high-voltage electrical current can be catastrophic.
- Avoid the use of petrol or any other form of accelerant as this makes it extremely easy for the fire to get out of control quickly.
- Keep the fire away from your property; the general rule for bonfires is that they should be at least five times their height away from you home or any other buildings. So,if a fire is 10 feet tall it should be at least 50 feet away from any kind of building or construction.
General safety tips
Safety considerations don't end once the fire is lit - in order to have peace of mind where personal well being is concerned, take the following precautions:
- Always keep a bucket of cold water or garden hose nearby so that sparklers can be disposed of safely and you have water on hand in the case of an emergency.
- Never leave a bonfire unattended especially if children are in close proximity.
- Make sure pets are shut inside as fireworks generally scare and this can make their behaviour unpredictable.
- If you build the bonfire a few days before you plan to light it then make sure you check it for hedgehogs and any other woodland creatures that may have considered it a warm and comfortable place to live.
- Don’t throw any part of a firework onto the fire, even if you’ve already set it off. You should also avoid throwing aerosols, paint cans, tyres and plastics on to the fireas they can give off toxic gases and canisters that previously contained flammable gases or liquids are likely to explode.
- Once the fire has been reduced to glowing embers be sure to dowse them with water in order to prevent the fire from reigniting.
If you live within close proximity of other houses then it’s polite to inform your neighbours that you’ll be having a bonfire night get-together. This is even more essential if they’re not invited because it’ll at least give them a chance to get their washing inside if it’s been hanging on the line!
You should also be courteous when it comes to the time that you light the fire. For example, if the 5th November falls on a week night, neighbours with young children who need to get up fo school in the morning will not appreciated them being kept awake until the small hours by crackling flames and fireworks.