Whether you’re holding a fireworks display in your garden for family and friends, or you’re responsible for a display at your local church hall or sports club, safety is the number one priority. By ensuring you have everything in place and have conducted all the requisite checks required for a safe fireworks display, you can ensure both yourself and the attendees all enjoy themselves.
These tips for a safe fireworks display are relevant whether you’re hosting a display for four people in your garden or 104 people in your local field.
Before Your Fireworks Display
Are you doing it yourself?
Are you taking care of the firing yourself or are you hiring a professional display team to take care of your display?
Category four fireworks are only available to professionals, so while you can have a spectacular display using category two and three fireworks, if you want to take yours to the next level you’ll have to bring in a pro team. At this time of year you’re probably going to find it difficult to book a professional display team, so remember this for next year if you feel you can improve on what you do yourself during this year’s Bonfire Night celebrations.
Where is the display?
The location of your display, particularly if you are in or close to a residential area, or have overhead power cables close by, is important to consider. The big questions to consider are whether there is a large enough landing area for fireworks residue to land safely away from spectators, and whether this will still be suitable irrespective of wind direction. The last thing you want to happen is for a display to be cancelled because the wind will blow fireworks residue straight back over your audience!
Other Planning Tips
If you’ll be buying your fireworks in the next couple of weeks you need to think about how and where you will store them. A post we did after New Year 2015 covers how to store fireworks safely.
Make sure you have all the necessary safety kit and equipment to hand. As a minimum, you should have a high visibility jacket, gloves, and goggles, while a first aid kit should also be available. If your event does not have an ambulance crew in attendance, your local ambulance station should be notified of your display and you should have a responsible person who will call them in the event of any emergency.
On the Day of Your Fireworks Display
Final Site Checks
Think about your site location again, and consider any changes you will need to make based on the day’s weather conditions. If you have planned for the wind and other conditions you shouldn’t need to make too many changes, but it may be necessary to move or change the shape and size of your spectator area. Based on any actions you take here it may also be necessary to inform organisers of a change to maximum capacity.
Other than sparklers, someone at the entrance should be checking to ensure that spectators are not bringing their own fireworks onto the site. In order to maintain the maximum level of safety, you might even want to prevent sparklers being admitted, instead selling or providing these fireworks from inside the site, providing you are licenced to do so. If you do opt for a no sparkler rule, ensure this is clear beforehand, and try to be reasonable with your own pricing if selling on-site so you avoid accusations of being cynical in the pursuit of profit.
If You Have a Bonfire
The weather should factor into your considerations if you’re having a bonfire as well as a fireworks display, while you should also ensure the bonfire is structurally stable – and won’t crash down when burning – and that it is a safe distance away from spectators.
Not returning to fireworks you’ve lit is a basic safety point, but a frightening number of people still choose to ignore this advice. Do not return to fireworks you have already lit under any circumstances, and stay clear of any that have failed to fire.
After Your Fireworks Display
Clear as much of the debris as possible on the night of your display – for large displays it is best to allow at least 90 minutes after the conclusion of the display for clearing up. You should also plan to return the next morning to conduct a check of the area in daylight and clear any remaining debris from the site.
Should you have any fireworks that have failed to fire, you should check if they are smouldering prior to removal. If you are unsure of what to do, call your local fire authority, who will be able to help and advise you. Dud fireworks can often be returned to retailers for a refund, though if this is not their policy they will at least be able to take care of safe disposal for you. If you have to dispose of them yourself, you should render the explosives inert by soaking them in water for at least 24 hours prior to disposal. Never dispose of fireworks by throwing them on the bonfire.
Be sure to stay safe this Bonfire Night and throughout the Christmas and New Year festive season, whether you are hosting a fireworks display for four or 104 people.