Put safety first at Halloween

Date published: 28 October 2019

Put safety first this Halloween to make sure it's a night for treats not tragedies. Fireworks and sparklers can be dangerous, so make sure they are used safely and in line with the manufacturer’s instructions. Follow the Firework Code.

Fireworks can be dangerous

Plan any firework display in advance to make it both safe and enjoyable. Anyone wishing to buy or use fireworks must have a licence.

Although fireworks are entertaining and exciting, if not properly handled they can be extremely dangerous and can result in injuries, often serious ones.

Fireworks should only be lit in a safe and controlled environment by a responsible adult. You should:

  • follow the Firework Code
  • only buy fireworks marked with a CE mark – this shows fireworks meet European Safety Standards
  • not drink alcohol if setting off fireworks
  • keep fireworks in a closed box when not in use and keep away from anything that could cause them to light 
  • follow the manufacturer’s advice on each firework and use them one at a time
  • light them at arm’s length using a taper and stand well back
  • never go near a firework that has been lit, even if it hasn’t gone off - it could still explode
  • never put fireworks in their pocket or throw them
  • always supervise children around fireworks
  • keep pets and animals indoors – the flames and noise upset them
  • not set off noisy fireworks late at night and never after 11.00 pm

There’s more information about firework safety on the page below:

Fireworks can cause fear and distress, especially amongst older people and more vulnerable members of the community.

You are also reminded of the traumatic effects that fireworks can have on pets and farm animals.

Sparklers

Sparklers are often seen as being harmless but they do burn at fierce temperatures. To a young child, the heat from a sparkler is equivalent to the heat from a welding torch.

You should:

  • store sparklers in a closed box in a cool, dry place
  • always light sparklers one at a time and wear gloves, keeping them at arm’s length
  • never hold a sparkler in their hand while also holding a baby or child 
  • plunge finished sparklers hot end down into a bucket of water as soon as they have burnt out (sparklers stay hot for a long time)
  • not take sparklers to public displays - it will be too crowded to use them safely
  • never give sparklers to under fives – they will not understand how to use them safely
  • always supervise children using sparklers, teach them how to use them properly, and give children woollen gloves to wear 

Fancy dress costumes

Parents should be aware of the potential dangers of their children wearing fancy dress costumes, either shop bought or home-made, if they're around fireworks, sparklers, or open flames (such as pumpkins with candles).

If a child is wearing a fancy dress costume this Halloween:

  • keep them away from naked flames – avoid using a naked flame or candle in pumpkins; use a torch, glow stick or battery-operated candle
  • stop, drop and roll if clothing does catch on fire – to try to put the flames out and also to stop the flames from rising towards the face
  • choose a costume and mask that doesn’t restrict a child’s visibility or vision
  • make sure they wear woollen tights or ‘heavy’ trousers (jeans) and a woollen jumper under the costume
  • supervise them well at all times

Look out for costumes that are labelled ‘Low Flammability’ ‘BS5722’ or have the European code ‘BS EN 14878’.

Fireworks and the law

Fireworks must be bought from a licensed dealer, who is required to keep sales records.

Fireworks bought from other sources could be of a sub-standard quality, presenting an even bigger risk of injury. It is also essential that you have a licence when buying any fireworks.

You can find a list of licensed dealers on the fireworks page.

For any enquiries on the use of fireworks or if you need help with applying for a licence, phone the fireworks helpline

More useful links

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