Fireworks, Sparkler and Bonfire Safety

A picture of a firework display.

The Firework Code and safety tips for sparklers and bonfires

Despite annual safety warnings, firework celebrations still end in painful injuries for too many people, including very young children.

Yet fireworks can be great fun for families, not just around November 5 (Bonfire Night/Guy Fawkes Night), but also Diwali, New Year’s Eve and Chinese New Year.

Injury figures support the advice that the safest place to enjoy fireworks is at a large public display - far fewer people are injured here than at smaller family or private parties.

But if you’ll be having a firework party at home, you can make the occasion fun and safe for everyone by following the Firework Code, as well as some sparkler and bonfire safety tips.

Firework Code

Only adults should deal with setting up firework displays, the lighting of fireworks and the safe disposal of fireworks once they have been used (and remember, alcohol and fireworks don't mix!). Children and young people should be supervised, and watch and enjoy fireworks at a safe distance. Follow these top 10 tips for a safer fireworks party:

  1. Plan your firework display to make it safe and enjoyable, and ensure it finishes before 11pm
  2. Only buy fireworks marked BS 7114, keep them in a closed box and use them one at a time
  3. Read and follow the instructions on each firework using a torch if necessary
  4. Light the firework at arm's length with a taper and stand well back
  5. Keep naked flames, including cigarettes, away from fireworks
  6. Never return to a firework once it has been lit
  7. Don't put fireworks in pockets and never throw them
  8. Direct any rocket fireworks well away from spectators
  9. Never use paraffin or petrol on a bonfire
  10. Make sure that the fire is out and surroundings are made safe before leaving.

Download firework safety tips in Urdu, Hindi, Punjabi, Bengali, Gujarati, Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese.

Did you know?

  • It is against the law to carry fireworks in public if you're under 18
  • Fireworks must not be sold to anyone who is under 18
  • It is an offence to let fireworks off during night hours (11pm to 7am), except on Bonfire Night (midnight), Diwali, New Year's Eve, and Chinese New Year (1am)
  • It is an offence under the Explosives Act 1875 to tamper with or modify fireworks

Sparkler safety

Sparklers are often viewed as being harmless but they burn at fierce temperatures, equivalent to a welding torch. Follow these top tips for sparkler safety:

  • It is recommended that sparklers are not given to under-5s
  • Make sure everyone handling sparklers wears gloves
  • Hold sparklers at arm’s length while being lit and light them one at a time
  • Don’t wave sparklers about close to other people
  • Never hold a baby in your arms while you are holding a sparkler
  • When the sparkler has finished put it in a bucket of cold water.

Bonfire safety

  • One person should be responsible for the bonfire and children should be supervised
  • Choose a site away from wooden fences, sheds and where children will be playing
  • Never pour petrol, paraffin or meths on to a fire - it’s safer to use fire lighters to prevent flare-ups
  • Keep a bucket of water handy in case of an accident
  • Avoid loose clothing and tie back long hair
  • After the party, pour water on the fire, rather than leaving it to burn out.

Please act responsibly and have consideration for those around you

Remember to keep pets indoors when fireworks are going off. For more information on what to do with your dogs during firework season, see the Dogs Trust website.

For veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), the sights, sounds and smells of fireworks around Bonfire Night and other celebrations can be an unwelcome trigger for upsetting and frightening memories of conflict.

You can find more information at Shoulder to Soldier.


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