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November the 5th is the traditional date where many people have bonfires and fireworks. New Year, Christmas, Weddings and Birthdays are also occasions where fireworks are being seen more and more. A bonfire can be a bit of fun, and may even be used to get rid of some rubbish if of course you are allowed to in line with your local rules, but whatever you do you need to keep safe.

First of all, let’s look at bonfires. You may have piled up some rubbish, and depending on the size of the pile, you must ensure that there is nothing inside it. It may seem an extreme example, but if there are children nearby or animals, make sure they are not in the rubbish before you light the fire. You need to know exactly what you are burning as well. You may inadvertently burn something which you didn’t realise produced toxic fumes, or it may be explosive, such as an aerosol can. Before you light the fire, take notice of the wind strength and direction and refrain from starting if the winds are high. Fires themselves can very quickly spread, so make sure that you light it in a place where only the fuels you want to burn catch fire, and that it doesn’t spread in the opposite direction.

Always light a fire when you can be there for the entire time it is burning, you should never leave it burning unattended. Once it has finished, cooling the entire area with a lot of water will ensure the fire has no chance of restarting accidentally. Doing this also helps to lower the temperature of the area, and ensure that nobody goes near it for at least 12 hours after the fire has been extinguished.

Let’s now move on to fireworks. Yes, these may be great fun to watch, but they really do come with a number of very real risks and can be quite dangerous. 

All trustworthy fireworks will come with instructions, and in supermarkets and specialist shops nowadays you can buy some really big fireworks. You need to make sure that you use them correctly, otherwise people may get seriously injured or could even be killed. Remember that you are in effect working with explosives, so when storing them before use, always follow the instructions. Again, when lighting the fireworks, read the instructions, which will stipulate how far away from the fireworks you should move. 

Make sure they are not going to fall over or set something else nearby on fire. Making sure a firework is secured properly prior to take-off is vital, if they fall over as they are being lit and explode horizontally instead of vertically, they will head towards whatever they are aiming at. This could mean they are fired into a crowd or a building, and the effects of this could be devastating. Even things like sparklers can cause problems. They can reach up to 1600 degrees Celsius, which is easily hot enough to cause serious damage. Small children must be constantly supervised when they are using sparklers, as they may injure their eyes or suffer burns if they are not careful. Pets too need to be considered where fireworks are being used, as they may become startled or scared, so make sure that they are being properly cared for, so they don’t potentially hurt someone else or themselves. Children may also become scared, and the explosions may hurt the ears of babies, so make sure that appropriate protection is in place.

In conclusion, planning is key. Make sure that everyone knows what is happening, where they should stand, when exactly the fireworks are going to be set off, and what to do should an incident occur. Have fire buckets of water on standby, as well as fire blankets and maybe even fire extinguishers. At the end of the night, it is also important to make sure that any bonfire is entirely extinguished so that there is no chance of it relighting. Fires can last through the night if not properly extinguished, and small smouldering fires pose a great risk to young children and pets, as they may not realise that the fire is still burning underneath, so cooling the ashes with water is essential to dampen the fire, otherwise, the wind could pick up and the ashes could spread to a more flammable substance. Of course, make sure that you have fun, but remember that safety is vital!