Everything you need to know about Bonfire Night: Traditions, History and Safety Tips

Everything you need to know about Bonfire Night: Traditions, History and Safety Tips

The clocks have changed and the days have become much shorter, the ghouls and ghosts of Halloween have gone back into hiding for another year. However, the autumnal days out with kids continue, bonfire night is just around the corner. This annual event needs careful planning to ensure the whole family have fun whilst remaining safe.

Most of us will venture out to “ooh” and “ah” at a spectacular firework display, but do we know the history of bonfire night and have we shared its traditions and meaning with the younger members of the family? Most importantly does everyone know how to stay safe?

The History of Bonfire Night
Remember, remember the 5th of November. It was on this night in 1605 that Guy Fawkes and his men planned to blow up the Houses of Parliament as part of the Gunpowder Plot. 36 barrels of gunpowder were placed in the Houses of Parliament ready for Guy Fawkes to light the fuse and cause a massive explosion on the arrival of King James for the opening of Parliament.Thankfully the gunpowder was discovered by the police before it exploded and all of the men involved in the Gunpowder Plot were caught, tortured and killed. As a celebration of his survival King James ordered the the people of England to have a bonfire on the night of the 5th November.Bonfire Night Traditions
In the tradition of King James the Gunpowder Plot, or failure of it, is celebrated all across Britain with bonfires and firework displays either in back gardens or on a much larger scale in towns and cities.Bonfire Night and Guy Fawkes
It is tradition to burn a model of Guy Fawkes on the top of the bonfire as fireworks, which are a reminder of gunpowder, explode in the sky.The Guy is generally made from old, second hand clothes and is stuffed with newspaper. Prior to bonfire night you will see children in the street with the Guy chanting “penny for the guy”. They do this to raise money for fireworks, although these days they can only be purchased in the UK by adults over the age of 18. The safety of bonfire night is a very important issue.Bonfire Night Safety
As mentioned earlier many large councils, towns and cities organise bonfires on a grand scale with spectacular firework displays. This is the safest way to enjoy the festivities, particularly with small children in tow. These displays are easily found too, with many having dedicated web pages, like this one for my local area in Surrey.Bonfire night has to be one of my favourite days out with the kids in Surrey, it’s up there for me with visiting Hobbledown, our favourite theme park, in the summer months.To ensure that you have a memorable bonfire night, for the right reasons, make sure you are on the ball with safety. These tips will help.Sparklers
Sparklers are fun, but the also get very hot so always follow safety advice:

  • Supervise children with sparklers and never give them to a child under five.
  • Light sparklers one at a time and wear gloves.
  • Don’t use sparklers when holding a young baby, they might reach out suddenly. There is also the possibility of embers falling on them.
  • Ensure that children always wave their sparklers around at arms length and no higher than their waist.
  • Do not let children pick up old sparklers from the ground, they may still be hot.
  • Put used sparklers hot end down into a bucket of sand or water.
Other Tips For the Night
When heading to a large public firework display keep in the mind the following:

  • Make sure you leave all pets safely indoors. Animals get very scared of bright lights and loud noises.
  • Organised events get very busy, ensure that your children are easily recognisable in the dark. Use fluorescent strips or stickers to keep them in sight.
  • Have small children on reigns or in a pushchair so you don’t lose them.
  • Ensure your children have details of how to get hold of you should they get lost.
  • Ensure that you stand a safe distance from both the bonfire and where the fireworks are being set off from. Some larger events have defined spectator areas, use these if possible.
  • Never go near a firework after it has gone off, or pick up firework debris.
  • Make sure everyone is wrapped up warm. November can be chilli and when you stand around from long periods of time the cold will soon set in, so wrap up warm in extra socks, woolly jumpers, scarves, hats and gloves.
  • If you are walking to and from the event don’t forget your torch, handy for keeping an eye on the kids and help avoid slips and falls on soggy ground or wet leaves.

Above all, enjoy what is one of the most exciting nights of the year!!

Do you have any special bonfire night traditions? Are you heading to a firework event or display? Let us know in the comments.

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