Bonfire night can be a wonderful, sensory experience for children. Sparkling bright lights falling from the sky accompanied by whiz, pops and bangs are understandably exciting and awe-inspiring. The noises, sights, sounds and smells are a novelty for kids and an opportunity for some fun family time.
Although it’s exciting, it’s also important to take extra precautions to keep children of all ages safe around fireworks. So, whether you’re holding your own back garden celebration, visiting friends or going to a public event, this post is to help you get the most out of your evening.
Stay close at all times
Children, especially older toddlers going through the “running away from your parents” stage should be supervised at all times. Reins can be a good idea if your child has a tendency like mine did at around 2 years old to suddenly run full pelt for no reason whilst laughing their head off like it was a hilarious game.
This isn’t ideal when there’s lots of people, a potentially large fire and a firework display. For my kids, if we’re not at home, it’s a choice between the pushchair or reins on this day of the year!
Avoid getting close to the fire
It might be cold, but avoid the temptation of getting too close to a bonfire for several reasons. Sometimes events will fence bonfires off, but even so, burning embers and sparks can travel a considerable distance into a crowd and into your clothes, skin and eyes. Standing far enough back that you can see the bonfire but can’t feel the heat from it is the safest option, so dress warm!
The chemicals produced by burning wood (any kind of wood) is also pretty bad for your lungs, especially the lungs of young children who are still developing. You don’t have to be stood right in the smoke to be affected. This is another reason not to stand too close to, or downwind from the bonfire. Be especially vigilant if you have children who have asthma, any heart problems or respiratory issues.
Reduce the noise
The bangs of fireworks can often be scary for young children. They can also be damaging for their developing ears. Luckily there are things you can do to help protect your child’s ears, and/or help them deal with the loud bangs and still enjoy the fireworks.
If you’re having your own display, children can watch from inside the house through the windows, to muffle the bangs. You can also use earmuffs or ear defenders for protection. They’ll muffle the bangs and keep your kids’ ears from getting too cold. Check out our article here about the best ear defenders for toddlers and babies.
Standing outside on a cold November evening means dressing accordingly. Dress your children in layers. Merino, cashmere and other wools are great for mid-layers, whilst thermal vests and underwear are great right next to the skin. A warm coat, a hat, gloves or mittens, a scarf, thick socks and warm shoes or boots are also perfect, if not essential for kids.
Be wary of sparklers
Although sparklers seem like a “safe” firework, they can burn at temperatures up to 982 degrees Celcius and can cause serious burns and scars if not handled properly. Don’t allow your children to stand close to anyone holding lit sparklers.
If you allow your child to hold a sparkler, ensure they hold it far away from their face, body and clothing. They should also be wearing gloves to protect against any burns, and be standing at a safe distance from passers-by or other children. Sparklers are not advised for young children.
If you’re going to any bonfire displays this weekend, stay safe and have fun!