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Bonfires and fireworks

Fireworks advice

Bonfires and/or firework displays with a public audience need Public Entertainment Licence, whether there is an admission fee or not.

If you will be using or watching fireworks you can help keep safe by following the fireworks code:

  • fireworks should be stored securely and safely in a closed box. Keep the box somewhere cool and dry and make sure that children can't get to it
  • before you start, plan how you will organise the display and make sure you have things set up in the safest way possible. Give yourself enough room and make sure your path to and from the box of fireworks is clear of any obstructions. Keep a full bucket of water handy for any emergency (it also makes a safe place to dispose of used sparklers)
  • think about what you're wearing when letting off fireworks. Avoid anything loose or dangling like a scarf
  • different types of fireworks mean different hazards. Before setting off each firework, read the instructions carefully using a torch. Never use a naked flame to light a firework. Follow the instructions properly
  • make sure there is only one person letting off fireworks. Never allow children to let off fireworks. Fireworks should only be let off one at a time and don't rush. Taking your time will not only prolong the enjoyment for those watching your display it is also safer than rushing to light as many as you can at the same time
  • light the tip of each firework at arm's length, using a safety firework lighter or fuse wick and step away from the firework
  • keep children well away from fireworks. Whilst some people see them as relatively safe, sparklers need careful handling. Light them one at a time, make sure anyone holding them wears gloves and put spent sparklers into a bucket of water as soon they have gone out. Never leave children unsupervised with any fireworks and try to make sure that they are well aware of the dangers. Never give sparklers to a child under five
  • during your display you may find that you light a firework and it does not go off. If this happens do not go back to it. The firework may still be live, and could go off. Wait until the end of your night, douse the firework with lots of water and then, either, completely bury it in the ground and cover it well or keep it soaking in a bucket of water
  • the loud bangs and flashes from fireworks can frighten pets. Keep all your pets indoors when you are having your display. Remember, you may also need to have your pets indoors over several nights if other displays are taking place
  • drinking alcohol presents an added danger when there are fireworks around. Be aware of your guests' drinking during the display and try to make sure it does not impact on the overall safety of the evening. The person setting off the fireworks should not have any alcohol until after the display is over. You should also consider not having any alcohol for anyone until your display is over
  • it is perfectly possible to have a firework display without having a bonfire and in fact it is much easier and safer to manage without one.  However if you have decided that you are having a bonfire, make sure it's built well way from your house, shed, trees and fence. Before lighting, check very carefully that there's no animal or even a young child hiding inside the bonfire
  • It is advisable not to light the bonfire until after all your fireworks have been let off. Once lit, make sure everyone keeps a safe distance away and make sure nothing is thrown onto the fire. If you are having difficulty starting the bonfire use domestic firelighters to help, never use a flammable liquid like petrol or paraffin to get it going

Following these tips will help keep you safe, but, sadly, accidents happen to even the most careful and prepared people. Basic first aid, particularly relating to burns, will be essential if the worst does happen.

If the worst should happen and someone's clothing does catch fire, remember:

  • get them onto the ground as quickly as possible
  • roll them over to put out the flame
  • call an ambulance

For more information see the Scottish Fire and Rescue website.