Watching fireworks is great fun. But taking care is important especially as children are more likely to get hurt by fireworks than adults. There are simple things that can reduce the risk to your family. 

General safety reminders

Children under five are too young to safely hold a sparkler and don’t really understand why they might be dangerous. Avoid giving them one to hold.

Babies or children can wriggle in your arms and reach out unexpectedly. Avoid holding a baby or child when you have a sparkler in your hand.

Children over five will still need you to supervise them when they use sparklers. It’s safest if they wear gloves when they’re holding them. They might seem like 'fireworks lite' but sparklers can reach a temperature of 2000ºC. Have a bucket of water handy to put them in so that no-one can pick up a hot one off the ground. Teach them not to wave sparklers near anyone else or run with them.

Safety reminders for your own event

If you want to be safe on bonfire night take your child to your local organised event. If you are holding your own or going to a friend's, it’s good to remember the following things. 

  • Children do need careful supervision. Have a marker, like a rope, for the children to stand behind at a safe distance from the display.
  • Avoid noisy fireworks late at night, especially after 11.00pm.
  • Use a torch – rather than a naked flame - to carefully read the instructions. Remember the rule to light a firework, hold the firework at arm’s length and light it with a taper or firework lighter.
  • Store fireworks in a metal box until you are ready to use them.
  • Never throw spent fireworks onto a bonfire.
  • It’s best to be fully in control when you’re lighting fireworks. Avoiding alcohol until you’ve set them all off is the safest option.
  • Don’t go back to it once a firework has been lit. Sometimes they can be very slow to get started and may take you by surprise.
  • The safest place for a bonfire is at least 18 metres (60 ft) away from the house and surrounding trees and hedges, fences or sheds.
  • After you’ve finished the display, make sure that anyone who is helping you to clear up uses tongs or gloves to collect all the spent fireworks to avoid burning themselves.

Watching fireworks is great fun. But burns from fireworks can be devastating – and happen very easily if you don’t take the correct safety precautions.

  • Over 500 children under 16 are rushed to A&E in the four weeks surrounding bonfire night.
  • Many more boys than girls are injured by fireworks – especially boys aged 12 to 15.
  • The most common injuries are to hands, followed by the eyes and face.

Most injuries happen at family bonfire parties or private displays. Understanding the dangers of fireworks can prevent injuries and in some cases save lives.

Firework safety – the basics

  • Make sure children stand at a safe distance from the bonfire.
  • Keep everyone well back from the display.
  • Never return to a lit firework.
  • Never throw fireworks.
  • Keep fireworks in a closed metal box.
  • Always follow the instructions when using fireworks.

Did you know: A rocket can reach speeds of 150mph.

Sparkler safety

Sparklers are not ‘fireworks lite’ – A sparkler can reach a temperature of up to 2,000 degrees Celsius – 20 times the boiling point of water. And three sparklers burning together generate the same heat as a blowtorch!

  • Always hold sparklers at arm’s length and wear gloves when handling them.
  • Don’t hold babies and young children while you’re holding a sparkler – they can reach out unexpectedly and grab at them.
  • Don’t give sparklers to children under 5. They’re too young to hold them safely and don’t understand why they might be dangerous.
  • Older children can be trusted with sparklers, but need supervision. Teach them not to wave sparklers near anyone else or run while holding them.
  • Once sparklers are out, make sure you put them in a bucket of water.

In an emergency

What to do in an emergency

COOL, CALL, COVER

COOL for 20 minutes under cool running water, CALL 999 OR 111 or your GP for advice, COVER the burn loosely with cling film.

  • Don’t touch the burn or pull at any clothing that might be stuck to it.
  • If someone’s clothing catches on fire, get them to stop and drop to the ground and roll them any heavy material (like a curtain).
  • Get advice from a doctor, the A&E department at your local hospital, or call the NHS for advice on "NHS 111" in England and Scotland and NHS Direct (0845 4647) in Wales.
  • Get medical advice for any burn on a child larger than a postage stamp.
  • If the burn involves a child’s face, hands, feet, joints or genitals, it should be seen by a doctor.

Understanding how to treat burns while waiting for an ambulance can prevent infection and minimise the severity of injuries. Visit NHS Choices for first aid advice for burns.

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