Safety advice offered before Halloween and Bonfire Night

Residents in Oxfordshire are being reminded of safety advice with both Halloween and Bonfire Night on the horizon.  

Oxfordshire County Council’s Fire and Rescue’ team say the safest way to celebrate Bonfire Night is to attend a professionally organised public event.

Meanwhile they are also providing advice about costumes and candles relating to Halloween and community celebrations.

Deb Forder, Community Safety Manager from Oxfordshire County Council’s Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Organised fireworks displays are more fun, cheaper and far safer than hosting your own fireworks or bonfire party.

“However, if you are planning on using fireworks for a private event on 5 November, or at other community gatherings, please familiarise yourself with the Fireworks Safety Code to ensure you keep everyone safe.

“Remember that fire safety is much more than fireworks and great care should also be taken with Chinese sky lanterns, and with Halloween costumes and decorations.”

Bonfire Night

As it will not be practical for everyone to attend organised public events, guidance is also being shared for anyone having their own fireworks display:

Top safety tips for Bonfire Night and other events where fire safety needs to be considered:

  • Only buy CE marked fireworks from reputable and licensed shops.
  • 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 your 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Chinese sky lanterns

Chinese sky lanterns have become popular at celebrations such as weddings, religious ceremonies and Bonfire Night.

Oxfordshire County Council’s Fire and Rescue Service do not recommend the use of sky lanterns because of the fire risk that they pose.

However, if they are used:

  • Make sure there are no flammable materials near the sky lantern launch site.
  • Consider wind directions and don’t launch if the wind takes the lantern towards vegetation, thatched properties or built up areas.
  • Don’t launch in winds stronger than 5mph.
  • Remember that once launched there is no control over the direction of travel. The fuel cell can stay hot and ignite items that it lands on.
  • Don’t launch near roads or airports.
  • Damage to the paper or hanging things onto the lantern might increase the fire risk.

 Halloween Safety

  • When purchasing costumes and masks, make sure that they are labelled as flame-resistant.
  • Do not use flammable materials to make homemade costumes.
  • Always keep children away from naked flames.
  • If your clothing does catch fire, remember to stop, drop and roll to smother the flames.
  • Always place candles in a proper holder on a stable, heat-resistant surface
  • Consider using flameless candles – either LED, battery-operated or electronic.
  • Decorations can burn easily – don’t attach them to lights or heaters.


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