With Bonfire Night right around the corner, you might be planning to hold your own celebrations - but make sure you’re not breaking the law when you’re doing so.
This is everything you need to know about the laws regarding fireworks and bonfires.
Bonfires and the law
The Government website says that there are no laws against having bonfires - but there are laws for the nuisance they can case.
The website states, “You cannot get rid of household waste if it will cause pollution or harm people's health. This includes burning it.”
It goes on to explain that you “could be fined if you light a fire and allow the smoke to drift across the road and become a danger to traffic”.
The laws regarding bonfires are:
- It is an offence for any personal to lay or light a fire in a public place so as to endanger any other person or give them reasonable cause for alarm or annoyance or so as to endanger any property
- Bonfires must be 18 metres away from any buildings and no more than 2.5 metres in height
Fly tipping during bonfire and fireworks season is also a major cause of fire and it is a criminal offence.
When building a bonfire, the British Hedgehog Preservation Society recommends that you don’t build it until the day that it’s going to be lit. This will prevent wildlife, like hedgehogs, from nesting within the branches.
You should also check your bonfire before lighting it with a torch to ensure that there’s nothing hidden amongst the wood.
Fireworks and the law
There are rules in place to ensure that the use of fireworks doesn’t cause harm or too much disturbances.
The Government website states that these rules are:
- You cannot set off fireworks between 11pm and 7am (or after midnight on bonfire night)
- You cannot modify, tamper or misuse fireworks
- You cannot throw or set off fireworks on any highway, street, thoroughfare or public place
- It is illegal to sell fireworks to anyone under the age of 18
- It is illegal to be in possession of fireworks in a public place if you’re under the age of 18
- You cannot possess display category fireworks unless you’re a fireworks professional
- It is illegal to cause unnecessary suffering to any domestic or captive animals with fireworks
It should be noted that police can issue an on-the-spot fine of £90 if you are caught selling or using fireworks illegally. You can also be fined up to £5,000 and be sentenced to up to six months in jail for this offence.
You can only buy fireworks from registered vendors for private use between these dates:
- 15 October and 10 November
- 26 and 31 December
- Three days before Diwali and Chinese New Year
Keeping safe during Bonfire Night
Bonfire Night can be great fun for people involved, but don’t forget that fireworks and bonfires can be very dangerous.
Here is some advice from Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) for staying safe:
- Light fireworks at arm’s length using a taper, and stand well back
- Keep naked flames, including cigarettes, away from fireworks
- Never return to a firework once it’s been lit
- Never use paraffin or petrol on a bonfire
- Keep a bucket of water handy in case of an accident
- Avoid loose clothing and tie back long hair
- Pour water on the bonfire rather than leaving it to die out
How to treat a burn
In case of an accident, this is what you need to know in case someone suffers a burn injury. This information comes from the St John Ambulance website:
- Move the person away from the source of heat
- Start cooling the burn as quickly as possible - hold it under cool running water for at least ten minutes, or until the pain gets better. Do not use ice, creams or gels as they can damage the tissue and increase the risk of infection
If the burn is serious, you should call 999 for emergency help. In the meantime:
- Remove any jewelry or clothing near the burn, unless it’s stuck to it
- When the burn has cooled, cover the area loosely with some kitchen cling film or another clean, non-fluffy material like a plastic bag - this will protect the wound from infection