There's nothing better on Bonfire Night than gathering in a field with your friends and family with some toffee apples and a big fire, watching some brilliant fireworks.

But accidents can happen, especially around explosives and fire... Follow our top tips and set off fireworks safely this year!

When can I buy fireworks?

The government website states that you can only buy fireworks, including sparklers, from registered sellers for private use on:

  • Thursday October 15 to Tuesday November 10
  • Saturday December 26 to Thursday December 31
  • Three days before Diwali and Chinese New Year

At other times you can only buy fireworks from licensed shops.

You can be fined up to £5,000 and/or imprisoned for up to 6 months for selling or using fireworks illegally. You can also get an on-the-spot fine of £90.

How old do you have to be to buy fireworks?

You can’t buy fireworks if you’re under 18, and it is also illegal to carry fireworks in public if you’re under 18.

Are there time restrictions on when I can set fireworks off?

It is against the law to set fireworks off during night hours from 11pm - 7am except on Bonfire Night, and Diwali, New Year and Chinese New Year when the cut off is 1am.

Only adults should light fireworks and deal with firework displays.

Bonfire safety

Bonfires should be at least 18m (60ft) away from houses, trees, hedges, fences or sheds.

Use domestic firelighters when lighting a bonfire. Never use petrol, paraffin or other flammable liquids to light a bonfire.

The majority of firework-related injuries happen at family or private parties and the most common injuries are to hands, followed by the eyes and face so be careful if you’re planning your own display.

What do I need to know when buying fireworks?

You should only buy fireworks that comply with British Standard 7114:1988 or its European equivalent but instructions should be in English.

Only buy fireworks in full packs and do not buy loose fireworks or packs that have had fireworks taken out of them.

What do I need to know about different fireworks?

Set Pieces (Catherine Wheels)

These come in a variety of sizes and can be static or non static. They should be nailed securely to timber uprights about 1.5 - 2 metres off the ground so that they can be seen by the those watching at the back.

Tape the fuse to the timber upright so it can’t be blown about by the wind.

Make sure you read the instructions carefully on non-turning (statics) as they have to be nailed to timber differently.

Roman Candles

Candles need to be pushed into the ground for firing or tied to an upright stake and angled away from the audience. They should be bound to the stake in at least two places.

The fuse is divided into two pieces, the delay which joins onto an instant fuse. Ensure that the very end of the delay is lit - this gives about a 5-8 second delay until the firework goes off. Do not remove the fuse cover until you need to.

Novelty Batteries

Squat batteries should be fired from the ground or a piece of wood. Taller ones should be staked or mounted so they don’t fall over.

Inside you’ll find a range of tubes which produce a barrage of fireworks that last for around 30 seconds.


Rockets should be loaded into a firing frame or launching tube and angled away from spectators. The size of the angle depends on the direction and strength of the wind.


Do not give these to anyone under the age of 5, Hold them at arm’s length and wear gloves when handling them. Note: sparklers get five times hotter than cooking oil.

What you need to know if you're setting off your own fireworks

  • Have a torch on hand to check the instructions
  • Ensure sparklers are out by putting them in a bucket of water
  • Wear eye protection and gloves when setting them off
  • Have a bucket of soft earth to stick fireworks in
  • Never drink alcohol if you’re setting off fireworks
  • Make sure you set up the fireworks in daylight and cover them with plastic bags to keep them dry
  • Light fireworks at arm’s length with a taper, portfire or other long lighting devices - suitable devices can be supplied with packs of fireworks
  • Never go back to a firework after it has been lit as even if it hasn't gone off, it could still explode
  • Store fireworks in a metal box and keep it closed between use
  • Wear strong gloves and use tongs to dispose of used fireworks
  • Never throw fireworks on a bonfire
  • After the display, pick up the spent fireworks and douse the duds in water

Fancy seeing a beautiful fireworks display this year? Put some of these dates in your diary!