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Bonfire Night can be great fun. Wrapping up warm, throwing on your wellies and watching a local firework display can be one of the highlights of the year and the kids love the excuse to stay up slightly later than usual, eat lots of yummy food and be amazed by the sparkling sky.
However, it can also be dangerous and cause a lot of damage to your garden, particularly if you decide to have a bonfire or firework display on your own property.
But how can you ensure that everything is protected?
We've put together a few tips to make sure that your garden and home stays in perfect condition and your family stay safe this year...
1) Be Aware Of Your Surroundings
It may sound obvious, but if you have a small garden with lots of furniture, trees and a shed, it's probably not wise to set off fireworks. The same goes for high fences – if your firework doesn't light properly, it's highly likely to fly into a fence. If you do have a small garden, why not join forces with your neighbours to co-host a party in a bigger garden and offer to split the costs, or visit a local display?
2) Store Your Fireworks Correctly
If you do decide to set off your own fireworks, make sure they are stored correctly to ensure they are in the best condition for letting off. Don't use any fireworks that have been damaged in any way – it's extremely dangerous. Make sure they are stored in a cool, dry place and out of reach of children and pets.
3) Make Sure Everyone Stands Back
Letting off your own fireworks is a lot of fun and can be enjoyed by people of all ages, but make sure only one person is letting them off at a time and that they have enough room to move out of the way. Make sure everyone watching the display stands as far back as possible. Not only will this ensure there are no accidents, but they will also be able to enjoy watching the display a lot more from a distance.
4) Protect Your Furniture
Any garden furniture is under threat around this time of year, not only from fireworks and bonfires, but from the severe weather conditions. Rain, snow and heavy wind is bad enough, but if a firework were to land on your favourite bench or your patio set is too close to a bonfire, it could end in disaster. Teak finishes protect the wood, but they also make your furniture even more flammable. The best thing to do is store your garden furniture in the garage or shed during the autumn and winter when it is not in use, or invest in some furniture covers if you're tight for space.
5) Make Sure Your Pets Are Inside and Check Your Bonfire
Bonfire night can be extremely frightening for animals with all the loud noises and flashing lights. Ensure that all your pets are kept indoors each evening in the run up to Bonfire Night as people often don't just save their displays for 5th November. Check that your animals are indoors, preferably upstairs, with the windows and curtains shut. If you are having a bonfire, you've probably been collecting your wood and rubbish for a while now. Piles of materials look cosy and warm for wild animals like hedgehogs, so make sure you thoroughly inspect it before lighting to ensure none have made themselves at home inside. Move the whole pile to another destination while it is still daylight to give any animals a chance to run out and find somewhere else to sleep, and give it another check over with a torch before lighting.
6) Safety First!
Make sure you have a bucket of water handy for any accidents and to dispose of your sparklers correctly. If you are the one lighting the bonfire and fireworks, make sure you are not wearing anything loose such as a scarf or any floaty material. Light your fireworks at arms length and make sure you keep clear as they shoot up. If you do have fireworks that do not go off after you have lit them, leave them until the end of the evening as they could still be live. Douse it in water and bury the firework or leave it in a bucket of water, then ask the Fire Brigade for advice. It would also be a good idea to learn basic first aid just in case of any accidents and burns:
- Keep calm
- Put the burn under cold running water for at least 10 minutes straight away
- Remove tight clothing as the skin may swell
- Cover the burn in cling film
- Call 999 if the burn is very serious, or go straight to A&E after this process
7) Clear Your Garden Afterwards
If you like to attract wildlife to your garden or have pets who like to run around, it would be very wise to check for any fallen fireworks, wrappers and sticks in your garden at your earliest convenience. Animals can be extremely inquisitive, and finding a firework in the garden gives them a new toy to play with, fetch or peck at. Not only will the firework have leftover chemicals and gun powder inside, which can be dangerous for the animals, but there is always a small chance that the firework did not go off correctly and could explode. Even if you didn't set off fireworks yourself, your neighbours or people who live close by probably did, and it's very easy for them to fall from the sky into your garden.
Getting Ready For The Night
Now that you've done your safety checks, you're ready to enjoy Bonfire Night with your family and friends.
It's a date that many people look forward to. Whether you decide to go and watch a professional display, or keep the celebrations in the confines of your own garden, make sure you eat lots of Bonfire Night themed treats, enjoy your fireworks sensibly and make sure your family, belongings and pets are safe.
Let us know your Bonfire Night plans, tips and safety checks in the comments below!