Keeping Kids Safe & Happy on Bonfire Night!


Happy Bonfire Night, mummies & daddies! Or, Happy Guy Fawkes Night if that’s what you call it.

If you’re planning on celebrating at home, or even going to a public display tonight (we didn’t go to any weekend ones unfortunately but will tonight if we can!), and taking the children, this quick guide could be a useful read to keep everyone safe & sound. Fireworks are loud, explosive and ultimately dangerous, as are bonfires, so it’s important to keep safety in mind, and to keep your little one calm.

Burn & Injury Prevention

With fireworks and bonfires, the obvious hazard is burns. Prevention is obviously key – these tips will likely sound obvious but it’s surprising how many people get caught up in the novelty & festivities, leading to injuries.

  • Follow the instructions on the firework box; if it states to stand 8 metres away when spectating, follow these instructions!
  • Keep small children back and if you know they’re likely to run, keep them on reins or in a buggy. This is a big one for me as my two year old is a livewire!
  • The same applies for bonfires; if at an organised event, listen to the event organisers and keep back from the fire.
  • If in charge of children, avoid being under the influence of alcohol as this can dull your senses & reflexes, which isn’t great around fire and explosives.
  • Supervise children with sparklers – ensure they’re gloved, and smaller children should have their grasp of the sparkler assisted by a responsible adult.
  • Never give a sparkler to a child under 5; they can watch and enjoy still!
  • Ensure there is a bucket of water close by to drop sparklers in immediately – this will avoid curious children picking up the molten hot remnants. Keep a hosepipe on hand for emergencies.
  • If a firework has been lit but hasn’t gone off, do not let anyone near it, particularly children – leave it until the end of the night, remain out of the danger zone (you can still continue with your display nearby as long as a safe distance away) and then fully submerge the dud firework in water overnight. It isn’t legal to dump it into a pond, lake, river etc. It can be taken to a landfill or placed with your normal rubbish if fully soaked the next morning.
  • Only buy fireworks with the BS7114 kitemark.
  • Don’t build a bonfire too high as this can lead to parts falling on spectators.
  • Never, ever light a firework with petrol or flammable liquid. You’d think that this is plain common sense… sadly not!
  • Ensure your bonfire and firework display isn’t too close to fences, shrubbery, buildings etc. My dad made this mistake years ago and set our wooden pergola and all the furniture within on fire due to a stray rocket… oops!

Burn & Injury Treatment

We’re big supporters of St John Ambulance for their first aid advice. You can download a basic guide to treating burns here, and this video is a superb resource for treatment guidance.

If your little one is unlucky enough to sustain any other injuries, the St John First Aid for Parents resource is very helpful. Never hesitate to call 111 or 999 if you feel your child’s injury is serious enough.

St John Ambulance Burn Treatment Advice

Tips For Anxious Little Ones

It’s very common for children to be a little nervous of fireworks and bonfires – the noise, the heat, it can all get a bit much! These tips could really help…

  • Invest in a pair of ear defenders. If you’ve left it a bit late, most chemists sell ear plugs – ear muffs could also help dull the loud noises.
  • Get them prepared! Sit them down and explain (if they’re able to understand) what the fireworks are and that it’s going to be fun, not bad! A practice run is always a good idea if you’re able.
  • Stay close and reassure your little one that you’re there to help them enjoy the night.
  • Focus on the nice aspects; the beautiful colours, the sparkles, how high the fireworks reach in the night sky…
  • If going to a public display, stay on the periphery so that your child doesn’t feel trapped by the crowds. Plan a way of leaving discreetly as soon as you arrive.
  • A back up plan at home is always a very smart move if going to a public display goes awry. Grab a packet of sparklers and a cheap family pack of fireworks just in case!

If Your Child Panics…

  • Gently soothe and reassure – move to a quieter spot if possible (this is why being on the periphery of the crowds at a public display is a good idea), or move indoors to watch from a window if at home.
  • Wrap them up in a cuddly blanket and hug/hold during the fireworks to give them added security.
  • If your little one is really inconsolable, make a discreet but swift exit and don’t make a big deal out of it – it may be annoying if you’ve gone to a lot of effort and/or expense to attend, but at the end of the day we need to remember that children are learning and are vulnerable to many things that we no longer find scary.

We hope that you all have a safe, fun Bonfire Night – love from Team BBY! Xx


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