Bonfire Night and fireworks safety tips

As Bonfire Night approaches, Oxfordshire County Council is reminding residents that the safest and most enjoyable way to celebrate is to attend a professionally organised public event.  

However, if people do wish to have a display in their garden, they are encouraged to follow these tips and advice:

  • Only buy fireworks that are UKCA (UK Conformity Assessed), CE or BS EN 15947 marked compliant.
  • Buy from reputable and licensed shops and ask advice before buying.
  • Keep fireworks in a closed, metal box.
  • Light the firework at arm's length with a taper and stand well back.
  • Keep naked flames, including cigarettes, away from fireworks.
  • Don't put fireworks in pockets and never throw them.
  • Never return to a firework that has not gone off, and never throw used or unused fireworks onto a bonfire.
  • Never drink alcohol while lighting a bonfire or setting off fireworks.
  • Always supervise children and don’t give sparklers to a child under five.
  • Keep the bonfire at least 18 metres away from houses, trees and hedges. There should be a barrier around the bonfire to keep spectators five metres away.
  • Before lighting a bonfire, check it is stable and that there are no children or animals inside.
  • Only burn dry wood. Never use paraffin or petrol on a bonfire and think about the direction of smoke travel.
  • Keep some buckets of water nearby.
  • Have consideration for those around you, including notifying neighbours who may have pets or farm animals. People are more likely to plan to protect pets and other animals if fireworks are let off on traditional dates.
  • Consider where fireworks and debris might fall, ensuring safety distances are provided for people to keep safe. Safety distances are provided on each firework label or package. These are minimum distances, so follow instructions.

Permitted firework hours

  • It is an offence to let fireworks off between 11pm and 7am except on 5 November when the cut off is midnight, and on Diwali, New Year’s Eve and Chinese New Year when the cut off is 1am.
  • It is also an offence to set off fireworks in a public place.

Councillor Jenny Hannaby, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Services and Safety, said: “Organised fireworks displays are more fun, cheaper and safer than hosting your own fireworks or bonfire party. However, if you are planning on using fireworks for a private event, please follow the fireworks safety code.

“Remember, only buy fireworks from a reputable retailer. Before purchasing, seek advice on the suitability of fireworks for the space available, and check that they meet current safety standards.”

Reporting unlicenced retailers

Anyone with concerns that retailers are not licensed or if shops are not storing fireworks appropriately, selling fireworks that do not display appropriate safety marks or selling to anyone under 18, please contact trading standards on 0808 223 1133


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