Guy Fawkes night is less than two weeks away, and if your family display is anything like our summer BBQs, there will be lots of men thinking they know best. So – to settle the arguments once and for all, we’ve recruited our very own fireworks expert – Tom from award winning Jubilee Fireworks based in Kingswinford.
The most important thing is safety. If you’re in charge of this year’s display, follow these simple guidelines to make your display as safe as possible:
- Always read and adhere to safety distances printed on the fireworks
- Wear appropriate personal protection – eye and ear protection are essential
- Don’t wear flammable clothing – a plastic pac-a-mac is a very bad idea (even if it’s raining!)
- Light fireworks at arm's length and always use a proper ignition source - such as a portfire
- Ensure that large fireworks are properly secured, either by burying or taping to a wooden stake hammered into the ground
- Keep pets inside and warn neighbours of your intended display time and duration
- Think about the wind. Burning debris will be blown downwind whist rockets will steer into wind
Big IS NOT Best
Tom is very keen to point out that big doesn’t mean best. “You will see many fireworks in the shops which are packaged to appeal. Often, they are small fireworks packed within a large external box to make them look bigger than they are.” Tom also suggests avoiding supermarket BOGOFs – “Supermarkets will try and tempt you with deals, such as buy-one-get-one-free – but you end up with two of each firework, and they are very poor quality”.
For a good display, people should seek out their local fireworks store. There are loads of fireworks suppliers all over the UK doing big professional displays who also sell consumer fireworks – such as Jubilee Fireworks. Many will do mail order too.
Tom continues: “Dedicated fireworks companies specialise in selling fireworks, so they may be slightly more expensive, you will get a lot more bang for your buck and you’ll definitely notice an elevated level of variety and quality.”
Design Your Display
Jubilee Fireworks know a thing or two about display design, returning to Alton Towers for the 8th year for the UK’s most spectacular fireworks display. “The most important thing to a good display is planning – you need to plan the order and placement of your fireworks. Try this simple step-by-step guide to designing your display. It’s best to start early and get everything set up in the afternoon before nightfall”
- Get all your fireworks out and find the required safety distances. This will be either 5m or 25m.
- Decide on a firing order and label each firework appropriately.
- Waterproof the fireworks. This can be done by wrapping them in a layer of Clingfilm. Don’t worry – one or two layers of Clingfilm will not affect the performance of a firework. Don’t forget to leave the fuse exposed.
- Pop a bit of tape lightly over each fuse so you can pull it off easily before you come to light the fuse.
- Set the fireworks up outside, making sure each is secure by digging them into the ground or taping to a stake. The fireworks should be arranged in a line front to back, with the first firework nearest the audience and the last at the rear. Make sure there is as big a gap as possible between each, so they don’t set each other off.
- Relax and enjoy a hot-dog.
- When it’s firing time, approach each firework in turn only after the previous one has finished. Remove the tape from the fuse and light at arms length, starting at the front of the fireworks and working rearwards.
- Never attempt to re-light a firework which has stopped firing or the fuse has stopped half-way though.
Tom’s Top Tips
“Before I go, here are my 5 top tips for a great display……”
- Get a head torch – then you have both hands free.
- Buy some good quality portfires. These are tubes filled with slow burning gunpowder which produce a 1” flame. You can hold them and use them to easily light your fireworks.
- Less is more – 5 good fireworks are definitely better than 15 bad ones.
- Make a rocket rack so you don’t have to reload in the dark.
- Don’t burn finished fireworks on the bonfire. This is VERY DANGEROUS.
Most importantly – be safe. We’ve given you a few hints and tips here, but the safety of your display is solely down to you! Planning is key. Good luck.