Fireworks display safety for your property
Fireworks are an integral part of the autumn season. Be it Bonfire Night, Diwali, Christmas, and New Year, they form a major part of celebrations right across the UK. But it is important to remember that while they’re a fun part of any party, fireworks are explosives that can cause injuries, damage property, and disturb neighbours who may feel unsettled by the noise and proximity of pyrotechnics so close to their property.
Figures from NHS Digital revealed that in 2020/21, here were more than 100 hospital admissions for people injured by fireworks. 1
It’s not just people who can suffer the consequences of accidental (or even deliberate) firework damage, either. In 2021, there were several reports of people losing their homes as a result of fires started by fireworks. In Crookston, Glasgow, a family home was entirely gutted after fireworks started a blaze. Fortunately, no one was injured, but up and down the country, hundreds of people every year report damage to property caused by fireworks.2
There’s also the emotional toll on pets, those suffering from PTSD, and the elderly who may feel intimidated by young people acting irresponsibly with fireworks. For those with holiday homes that are left vacant during this time of year, there’s always the worry that a blaze could easily start and, because the property is unoccupied, be allowed to take hold and cause extensive damage before the authorities are alerted. No matter what the celebration, it’s important to treat fireworks with a great deal of caution and respect.
What type of fireworks are available to the public?
While some people may like to see a blanket ban on the sale of fireworks, they are still available to anyone over the age of 18 in the UK. However, the public can only purchase Category 2 and 3 fireworks, while Category 4 are only available to professional, fully licenced operators who are usually responsible for putting on displays. Fireworks are also only available at certain times of the year, including:
- 15th October – 10th November
- 26th – 31st December
- 3 days before Diwali and the Chinese New Year.
If you want to buy fireworks at any other time of the year, they must be purchased from licenced shops. 3
How to store fireworks safely
If you’re leaving your holiday let vacant then you should consider not leaving fireworks stored on the property at all. However, if you do have fireworks on your property then it’s important to store them correctly and safely.
Avoid storing fireworks close to caustic or corrosive substances such as drain cleaners or paint strippers, and if you’re keeping your fireworks in the garden shed then make sure they’re not stored with fertilisers or wood treatment products such as creosote. It goes without saying that if you have any canisters of petrol around (for garden machinery, for example), then keep your fireworks well away from them!
If you buy them in a box, the advice is to keep it sealed until you’re ready to use the fireworks. They need to be kept dry to be effective, so popping them into a plastic tub with a fitted lid can be a good way to store your fireworks. This even applies to simple fireworks such as hand-held sparklers.
On the day
To make sure you enjoy your fireworks safely, try and ensure that conditions are right for your display. If the weather forecast predicts strong wind, fireworks could be blown off-course, potentially causing damage to neighbouring properties or even injuries. In that event, it may be best to postpone your celebrations for another day.
A way of extinguishing fireworks should always be on hand, whether that’s a small fire extinguisher or a bucket of water to put out sparklers and to use to thoroughly drench spent fireworks. If a firework fails to ignite then under no circumstances approach it. Leave it until the next day to dispose of it.
What about pets?
Animals can become extremely distressed by the loud bangs and flashes caused by fireworks, so you should ensure that your animals are safe indoors with doors and windows closed. Larger animals such as horses and cattle can also be alarmed by fireworks, so if you’re in a rural area you may want to consider going to an organised display instead of letting off fireworks at home.
Silent fireworks are also an option, and while you may not get the whizz-bang effect from them, you’ll still enjoy the bright colours, while keeping your pets happier too.
How far away from a property should you be when letting off fireworks?
The advice is the further, the better. Larger fireworks such as rockets can travel considerable distances, so it’s essential to make sure they’re well away from not just your property, but garden sheds, fences, and other people’s property. By law, they must be lit at least 50 feet away from public highways. 4
Am I insured for firework damage?
If you own a property, a holiday rental or a static caravan, your insurance may not cover you for damage caused by fireworks. It’s important to check the cover limits of your property insurance before you arrange that firework party, or give permission for guests to use fireworks on your property.
*The opinions and views expressed in the above articles are those of the author only and are for guidance purposes only. The authors disclaim any liability for reliance upon those opinions and would encourage readers to rely upon more than one source before making a decision based on the information.