Celebrate safely with family and friends this Autumn

Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS) has issued important fire safety advice to help Berkshire residents stay safe when celebrating with their family and friends this Autumn. 

Both children and adults are injured every year in accidents involving candles or fireworks, and each year, over half of all firework injuries are suffered by children. Over the past five years over 350 pre-school children, some only a year old, were treated in hospital for fireworks injuries*

RBFRS urges residents to be mindful of their surroundings by considering their neighbours when planning their celebrations. Bonfires should be kept under control and you should keep a bucket of water or a garden hose nearby in case of emergencies. 

The advice below covers the use of lanterns and candles, bonfire safety, dressing in costumes and the safe use and disposal of fireworks. Whether you’re celebrating Diwali, dressing up for Halloween or planning on enjoying fireworks for Bonfire night, the advice below will help you look after yourself, your loved ones and your property: 

Costumes

  • Make sure that when purchasing or using costumes and masks that they are labelled as flame-resistant.
  • Don't use flammable materials to make home-made costumes.
  • Keep children away from naked flames at all times.
  • If your clothing catches fire remember to stop, drop and roll. 

Fireworks

  • Only buy fireworks marked BS 7114 or with a CE mark - this shows that the firework meets British or European safety standards (a reputable shop will know this).
  • Don’t drink alcohol if setting off fireworks.
  • Keep fireworks in a suitable box.
  • Please be mindful of your surroundings: consider your neighbours when planning a fireworks party: ensure you light fireworks at a safe distance from spectators and property and where possible notify neighbours of your intention to hold a display.
  • Consumer fireworks are category 2 fireworks which have a minimum spectator distance of either 5 metres or 8 metres depending on the type of classification**.
  • Light at arm's length, using a taper and stand well back.
  • Never go near a firework that has been lit. Even if it hasn’t gone off, it could still explode.
  • Always supervise children around fireworks and never give sparklers to a child under five. Light sparklers one at a time and wear gloves. 
  • Keep pets indoors.
  • Handle fireworks with care - never put fireworks in your pocket or throw them and never throw fireworks into a fire even after use.
  • Once the bonfire has died down, spray the embers with water to stop it reigniting.
  • To dispose of them, put fully spent fireworks (but not misfired or partly spent fireworks) in refuse receptacles.
  • Never dispose of them by burying. 

Bonfires

  • Build bonfires well away from buildings, fences, trees and garden structures.
  • Never burn aerosols, tyres, canisters or anything containing foam or paint – many produce toxic fumes and some containers may explode causing injury.
  • Don’t use petrol or paraffin to get the fire going as it could quickly get out of control.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose nearby in case of emergencies.
  • Never leave a bonfire unattended and keep children and pets away from it. 

Lanterns and candles

  • Think carefully about the fire risks – particularly the possibility of candles falling over - if making homemade lanterns. Place them securely in a purpose built candle holder away from draughts. Flickering LED candles are safer than real candles.
  • Never allow small children to carry lanterns lit by naked flames. The handle could become hot or the child could slip.
  • Lanterns should never be made from plastic bottles or other plastic containers.
  • Floating lanterns are a fire hazard but also pose a risk to livestock, agriculture, camping activities, thatched properties and hazardous material sites.
  • Ensure that the candles are extinguished completely at night or before you go out.

Iain Harrison, Group Manager for Prevention at RBFRS said: “When celebrating this Autumn it’s important to remember that fireworks, lanterns, candles and sparklers all have the potential to cause harm.

“The danger is not just to yourself but to others around you – your family, friends and neighbours may be affected if you behave irresponsibly. Please follow the advice we’ve issued to ensure you celebrate safely.”