Fireworks – what you need to know

Always follow the firework code:

  • Stand well backfireworks
  • Keep pets indoors
  • Keep fireworks in a closed box
  • Only buy fireworks marked BS 7114
  • Light at arm’s length, using a taper
  • Follow the instructions on each firework
  • Never give sparklers to a child under five
  • Don’t drink alcohol if setting off fireworks
  • Always supervise children around fireworks
  • Light sparklers one at a time and wear gloves
  • Never put fireworks in your pocket or throw them
  • Never go near a firework that has been lit – even if it hasn’t gone off it could still explode

Be safe not sorry

Fireworks are safe if you use them properly. If you’re putting on a home display you should follow some simple steps to make sure that everyone has a good time without getting hurt.

Keep kids safe

We want children to enjoy fireworks but they need to know that they can be dangerous if they are not used properly. Each year over half of all firework injuries are suffered by children. The Child Accident Prevention Trust and Direct.gov have more guidance on keeping kids safe.

Sparkler safely

Did you know that sparklers get five times hotter than cooking oil? They should never be given to a child under five.

Where to buy

Don’t cut corners just to save a few pounds. Always buy fireworks from a reputable shop to make sure that they conform to British Standards. This means that they should have BS 7114 written on the box.

Sometimes shops open up for a short time before Bonfire Night but these may not be the best places to buy fireworks from. Staff in these shops might not be very knowledgeable about using fireworks safely and their fireworks might not meet British Standards.

Don’t buy fireworks from anywhere you’re not sure about, such as the back of a van or from a temporary, unlicensed market stall.

What to buy

There are different categories of fireworks. Members of the public can buy and set off most of the fireworks that come under Categories 1 to 3. These are fireworks that include those that you can use indoors, in your garden or at a display. Always read the packet carefully and make sure that the fireworks you buy are suitable for the place where you are going to set them off.

Professional fireworks

Some fireworks can only be bought and used by firework professionals. These include air bombs, aerial shells, aerial maroons, shells-in-mortar and maroons-in-mortar, all bangers, mini rockets, fireworks with erratic flight, some Category 2 and 3 fireworks which exceed certain size limits, and all Category 4 fireworks.

Setting them off

Only one person should be in charge of fireworks. If that’s you, then make sure you take all the necessary precautions. Read the instructions in daylight and don’t drink any alcohol until they’ve all been discharged. Make your preparations in advance and in daylight or with a torch (never a naked flame). On the night you will need…

  • a torch
  • a bucket or two of water
  • eye protection and gloves
  • a bucket of soft earth to put fireworks in
  • suitable supports and launchers if you£re setting off catherine wheels or rockets

Protect your animals

You should take precautions to protect your pets during the times of the year when fireworks are likely to be set off.

Fireworks and the law

There are laws about when fireworks can be sold, and to who – as well as the times fireworks can be set off.

If you are under 18 years of age

If you are under 18, you can’t:

  • buy the types of fireworks which can be sold only to adults
  • have fireworks in public places

If you do, the police can give you an on-the-spot fine of £80.

Using fireworks legally

It is against the law to:

  • set off or throw fireworks in the street or other public place
  • set off fireworks between 11.00 pm and 7.00 am – except during certain celebrations

If found guilty by the courts, you could be fined up to £5,000 and can be imprisoned for up to three months. You may be liable for an on-the-spot fine of £80.

When you can use fireworks during celebrations

You can let off fireworks:

  • until midnight on Bonfire Night
  • until 1.00 am on New Year’s Eve, Diwali and Chinese New Year
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