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Fireworks - safety and information, plus a UK buyer's guide.

Firework Safety

More than half the accidents each year with fireworks involve children. Fireworks are safe though if used properly. Here are some simple rules that you can follow when you use fireworks at home, that will help to keep everybody safe:

  1. All fireworks that you buy should meet the British Standard BS 7114. BS 7114 should appear on the box itself.
  2. Keep fireworks in a closed box.
  3. The person responsible for lighting the fireworks should not drink any alcohol. He / she should have a torch, a bucket of water, wear eye protection in the form of safety goggles or glasses and a pair of gloves, use a bucket of soil to place the fireworks in and have appropriate launchers for rockets and supports for catherine wheels.
  4. Follow the instructions on the firework carefully.
  5. Light the firework at arm's length, using a taper.
  6. Stand well back.
  7. Never return to a firework that appears to be unlit - it could explode in your face.
  8. Don't throw fireworks or put them in your pockets.
  9. Ensure children are supervised by a responsible adult.
  10. Wear gloves if using sparklers and light one at a time. Have a bucket of water close by for cooling down the spent sparklers. Don't give sparklers to children under the age of 5.
  11. Pets should be kept indoors.

Firework Categories

Fireworks are categorised according to their size and power. Those for domestic use fall under categories 1, 2 and 3. Category 4's (and some category 2's and 3's which exceed size restrictions) are for professional display purposes only. Typical category 4's would include bangers, aerial shells, mini rockets and maroons-in-mortar.

Firework Category Classification Where used
1 Indoors Restricted space eg indoors
2 Garden In limited areas eg gardens
3 Display In open areas eg fields
4 Professional Professional use only

For more safety information visit the Firework Safety website.

The Law

The following laws regarding fireworks are applicable in the UK:

  • If you are under 18, it is against the law to carry them in a public place.
  • You must be over 18 to buy them.
  • It is illegal for people to buy or own category 4's, unless they are professionals responsible for displays.
  • It is against the law to ignite or throw them on the street.
  • It is against the law to light them between 11:00pm and 7:00am unless it is Bonfire Night (November 5th) in which case they may be lit until 12:00pm, or Diwali (varies, 21st October in 2006), New Year's Eve (31st December - 1st January) or the Chinese New Year (varies, January 29 in 2006), in which case they may be lit until 1:00 am.