Now that Halloween is over, I bet you're looking forward to celebrating Guy Fawkes in the coming days if you haven't already! Lots of local fireworks displays are happening later this year, with a few as late as mid-November! This time of year is perfect to celebrate with little ones as the nights get darker earlier, but it’s important to avoid the risks that come with, quite literally, playing with fire. Whether you've got a newborn or just haven't taken the kids to one before, here are some top tips for families on your first bonfire night as parents.
Only Attend Organised Displays
Although it can be tempting to avoid the crowds and set off your own fireworks in the back garden, it can be extremely dangerous, especially when young kids (and babies) are around. Even the best-laid plans can go awry and quickly turn a fun event into a nightmare. Research in advance to find out where your local displays are being held, often advance tickets can be bought at a lower price.
Stay Back from the Action
If you do attend a public display, make sure you stand well back from where the fireworks are being set off and from where the bonfire is situated. Although these displays are generally safe, accidents can and do happen and it is not worth being too close and risking injury. Stay back and enjoy the fireworks as they light up the sky, without the risk.
Take Ear Defenders
Fireworks are louder than we often think, and can be harmful to children’s ears, particularly babies'. You can purchase ear defenders online and take them along to displays to minimise the effect of the loud noises to your child’s ears. The loud noises may be scary at first, so bear this in mind as you may need to prewarn your child if they're old enough to understand, that there will be loud noises, and it means something pretty is about to happen. Babies, in particular, may be frightened when they first hear the sound of fireworks, so if you can, make sure you're standing towards the outer edge of the crowd, so you can walk away if need be to comfort your crying baby and take them away from the noise.
Wrap Up Warm
Remember that it is autumn and the temperature is dropping down. It's been closer to 0 than we'd like quite recently and children feel the cold a lot more than adults. Even if it feels like a mild night, wrap the kids up warm with scarves, gloves and hats for the children, and yourselves, to avoid catching a chill. For young children in pushchairs or buggies, mittens, booties, a snowsuit (if its really cold) and a blanket would also provide extra comfort and warmth during the evening.
Avoid Sparklers for Toddlers
Sparklers are fantastic, but they get incredibly hot and aren’t actually safe for younger children, especially those under the age of five. If you still want toddlers to experience the magic, you could hold the sparkler for them and make shapes in the air whilst they look on, rather than letting them hold the sparkler themselves, or there's been a hack of putting the sparkler in a carrot, making them easier for tiny hands to hold. But do remember, their arms aren't very long, meaning the sparkler will still be quite near to their face. It's likely best advised to spike them in the ground, light them and take a few steps back for them to watch it burn.
Don’t Light Lanterns
Sky lanterns (those paper lanterns that float as they are lit up, á la Tangled), although very pretty, are dangerous and damaging to the environment. They have caused fires in the past and are widely banned, for good reason. Definitely, one to give a miss this bonfire night.
Host a Firework Free Party
Many supermarkets have actually stopped selling fireworks this year due to their threat to the environment (poor woodland creatures not knowing what's going on, the firework falling in their habitat, things catching fire etc) and how stressed it makes our pets. If you want to avoid the noise, you don’t have to go to a display. Why not host a family-friendly party at home. Skip the fireworks and instead fill up on yummy autumnal treats - candy apples, hot dogs and pizza pinwheels are all easy to make and will be well received by all ages. Apple bobbing and firework crafting make for fun child-orientated alternative activities.