10 Top tips for staying safe on Bonfire Night

Winter boots, sparklers and hot chocolate flasks at the ready!

family watching fireworks display in garden
(Image credit: Getty images / Mike Harrington)

Bonfire Night is one of the most nostalgic nights of the year – watching the fireworks and trying to write your name with sparklers always makes us feel like children again. It's a chance to wrap up warm and watch a display with friends and family as the nights draw in, as well as enjoying warming snacks by the bonfire, like hot dogs and mulled wine. 

Whether you're celebrating at home or attending an event, it's important to stay safe. Plus, if you've got young children or pets, you can do bonfire night without the bang by opting for quieter ways to mark Guy Fawkes Night. 

How do you stay safe on bonfire night?

Legally, fireworks can only be set off til midnight. Outside of New Year's Eve, Diwali and Chinese New Year you can't set them off between 11pm and 7am or you risk a fine. The London Fire Brigade recommends attending an organised event rather than doing them at home to be on the safe side. Whatever your plans, remember, remember our tips for staying safe on Bonfire Night.

pink fireworks display against dark sky

(Image credit: Getty images / Selvin)

1. Choose the right fireworks

If hosting your own firework display at home, make sure the fireworks you buy are suitable for home use and for the size of your garden, and check that they are marked with British Standard number BS 7114. Read the safety information on the box and the manufacturer's instructions.

Store fireworks in a metal box and take them out one at a time. Keep naked flames, including cigarettes, away from fireworks, and do not return to a firework once it has been lit. Needless to say, fireworks should be pointed away from spectators.

2. Leave plenty of space

Build your bonfire away from your home and any garden sheds, fences, trees, outbuildings and telephone wires. Ensure that you and your guests stand well away from the fire and the firework area. You may even wish to put up a barrier so that everyone knows the safety boundaries.

family watching fireworks display in garden

(Image credit: Future PLC / Brent Darby)

3. Check for animals

Always ensure that there are no sleeping animals hidden among the branches of the bonfire. 'If possible, try to leave the bonfire building until the day you’re lighting it. The longer it is left, the higher the chances of a curious hedgehog finding it and calling it home,' says Eric Michels, Head of Pro at CJ Wildlife. 'However, if building your bonfire on the day isn’t possible, I suggest popping tall chicken wire around the bonfire to deter wildlife from climbing inside.'

hedgehog among autumn leaves

(Image credit: CJ Wildlife)

4. Check the wind direction

'Pay attention to the wind direction – once lit, the smoke will drift in the direction of the wind,' says Garden Buildings Direct. 'You may need to dampen the fire if smoke begins to blow towards you or a neighbour’s house.'

5. Take care when lighting the fire

Garden Buildings Direct warns against using petrol, paraffin or accelerants to encourage the fire as these can easily lead to a loss of control of the fire. Avoid lighting it on dead grass or dry leaves, and don't use treated or painted wood as paint is flammable and could make it harder to extinguish. Once lit, don't leave the fire unattended.

exterior and front garden of a cottage

(Image credit: Future PLC)

6. Prepare an emergency water supply

Make sure you have some buckets or a hose pipe close to the bonfire to dampen it or distinguish the flames if things become dangerous, and never use paraffin or petrol on a bonfire – it's much safer to use firelighters.

7. Protect your pets

With all the loud bangs and squeals from fireworks, your pets can get very scared around bonfire night. Follow our tips on how to calm your dog down and keep them inside the house so they don't get near to the bonfire or fireworks. Close all windows and curtains to reduce the sound of the explosions.

Black dog in centre of tiled hallway

(Image credit: Future PLC / James Merrell)

8. Be savvy with sparklers

Sparklers are fun for children and adults alike! Enjoy them safely by lighting them in a space that is open but not too windy. Ensure that everyone holding sparklers is wearing gloves and holds the sparkler horizontally, as far away from their face and body as possible. When the sparkler is no longer burning, put it in a bucket of water to cool down.

sparkler held in hands

(Image credit: Alamy)

9. Clear up after the display

After the party, pour water on the remainder of the bonfire instead of leaving it to burn out. Ensure that you haven't left any unlit fireworks laying around as you don't want any nasty accidents in the days following.

Follow these top tips and your Bonfire Night should be one to remember – for all the right reasons!

10. Don't hesitate

'If any bonfires appear to be getting out of control this Bonfire Night, back away from the fire and call 999 immediately, and request the Fire & Rescue Service,' says Garden Buildings Direct.

Millie Hurst
Senior Content Editor

Millie Hurst was Senior Content Editor at Ideal Home from 2020-2022, and is now Section Editor at Homes & Gardens. Before stepping into the world of interiors, she worked as a Senior SEO Editor for News UK in both London and New York. You can usually find her looking up trending terms and finding real-life budget makeovers our readers love. Millie came up with the website's daily dupes article which gives readers ways to curate a stylish home for less.