When celebrating with friends and family, we can often become less aware of our own safety. This section gives extra advice about how to keep safe when celebrating.
During periods of celebration, we ask you to help older relatives and neighbours to ensure their safety as they are at greater risk from fire. Can you offer to test their smoke alarms regularly?
Smoke Alarms and Escape Plan
Make sure that you have a working smoke alarm installed on each level of your home. A working alarm can give you the vital time needed to escape in a fire. Test your smoke alarms weekly and do not remove working batteries for any reason – not even for that brand new battery operated gift!
When you have overnight guest, we advice you to:
- Make any guests aware of your fire escape plan.
- Tell guests who are staying overnight where the door keys are kept, in case they need to escape and where to meet in case of an emergency.
- Take special care of elderly people, children and those who may find it difficult to get out if there is a fire.
Never leave cooking unattended. The majority of fires start in the kitchen so this is a high risk area. Don’t cook if you are under the influence of alcohol. Always turn off kitchen appliances when you have finished cooking. For more advice and information see our Cooking page.
Make sure that cigarettes are fully extinguished after use, and take care when under the influence of alcohol or tired. It’s very easy to fall asleep while your cigarette is still burning and set furniture alight. Put out enough ashtrays for guests, so ash and cigarette butts don’t get put in wastepaper bins. For more advice and information see our Smoking And E-Cigarettes page.
Candles and Divas
Never leave candles unattended. Keep candles out of the reach of children, and away from decorations, cards and wrapping paper, fires, lights and heaters. Take care with candles on birthday cakes especially around children and keep matches and lighters away from them. For more advice and information see our Candles And Divas page.
There are a number of electrical safety tips we advice you to follow whilst celebrating and these can be seen below:
- Check fairy lights are in good working order and replace any bulbs that blow – they should conform to the British Standard (BS EN 60598).
- Switch off fairy lights and unplug them before you go to bed, or leave the house.
- Don’t let bulbs touch anything that can burn easily, such as paper or fabrics.
- You may have more electrical items in use when you are celebrating so be careful not overload sockets – only use one plug per socket.
- Always turn off plugs when they are not in use, except those that are designed to be left on, like freezers.
- Always use an RCD (residual current device) on outdoor electrical equipment – this safety device can be bought in DIY stores and save lives by instantly switching off the power if there is a fault.
For more advice and information see our Electrics page.
Public Firework displays are safer and you and your family will get to see more fireworks. If you choose to hold a display at home, ensure you follow the the Firework Code – Firework Top Ten Safety Code for Adults (courtesy of ROSPA) safety guidelines. Young people should watch and enjoy fireworks at a safe distance and follow the safety rules for using sparklers. Only adults should deal with firework displays and the lighting of fireworks. They should also take care of the safe disposal of fireworks once they have been used.
- Plan your firework display to make it safe and enjoyable.
- Keep fireworks in a closed box and use them one at a time.
- Read and follow the instructions on each firework using a torch if necessary.
- Light the firework at arm’s length with a taper and stand well back.
- Keep naked flames, including cigarettes, away from fireworks.
- Never return to a firework once it has been lit.
- Don’t put fireworks in pockets and never throw them.
- Direct any rocket fireworks well away from spectators.
- Never use paraffin or petrol on a bonfire.
- Make sure that the fire is out and surroundings are made safe before leaving.
Only buy fireworks from a legitimate retailer. Check the fireworks you buy are suitable for the size of garden and conform to British Standard (BS 7114). Make sure everyone stands well back. Don’t drink alcohol if you are responsible tor lighting the fireworks. Always wear gloves when holding a sparkler. Light sparklers one at a time. Never give sparklers to children under five Keep pets indoors and warn neighbours.
- It is illegal to possess a firework if you’re under 18 years old.
- It is an offence to set off fireworks after midnight on 5 November.
- It is illegal to set off fireworks (including sparklers) in the street or public place.
A bonfire or beacon are great ways to celebrate Bonfire Night and other events, but do follow these safety tips:
- Don’t burn household rubbish on a bonfire.
- Use dry untreated wood.
- Build your bonfire away from public roads, trees, hedges, fences or buildings.
- Beware of overhead wires.
- Warn your neighbours beforehand so they can take in any washing, close windows, keep pets indoors and take other necessary precautions.
- Before you light the bonfire, check whether any pets, wildlife or small children have crawled inside.
- Never use flammable liquids to start a bonfire and never throw on fireworks.
- Keep everyone a safe distance from fireworks and bonfires.
Remember Stop, Drop and Roll
If your clothes catch fire and always keep a bucket of water or a working hose pipe nearby in case of fire. Don’t leave bonfires unattended. A responsible adult should supervise the bonfire until it has burnt out. Pour water on the embers to stop it reigniting.
Don’t be a target for arsonists
Do not leave rubbish or old furniture lying around – instead, store it securely behind a locked gate, away from your home. If you need to arrange a bulk waste collection, contact your local council. Ensure your wheeled bin is off the street after collection day and make sure it is secure.
A guide on Celebrating with Bonfires and Fireworks has been produced by the government which can be download here.