The Hidden Dangers of Bonfire Night

Although Bonfire Night has had us sticking our teeth together with toffee apples and writing our names with sparklers since we were children, it might be time to rethink how you’re spending the 5th November this year. Not to put a dampener on your celebrations, but it turns out it isn’t just your own safety you should be worried about when launching rockets into the air. Despite all those firework safety talks at school about letting go of the rocket before lighting it, standing a safe distance away and having a bucket of water on standby for those stray sparklers - there's one thing your teachers probably didn't tell you and that's how your lighting up the sky is affecting wildlife.

If you're a pet owner, you'll probably know to keep your cats and dogs indoors during Bonfire Night celebrations and you may have even witnessed your pets cowering under the nearest coffee table until the explosions subside. But indoor animals are lucky, they have somewhere to hide and someone to stop them from going outside where it's dangerous. The same cannot be said for birds and other wild animals who struggle and even die due to fireworks and bonfires each year.

Because fireworks create such loud bangs many birds and animals become scared and some will abandon their nests and homes to escape, leaving the babies to die because their mothers can’t find their way back. Birds have also been known to fly into the sides of buildings due to the noise, and other animals will run out into the road or fall into bodies of water and die in an effort to escape. But fireworks aren’t the only threat, bonfires pose danger as well particularly for hedgehogs or even frogs and other small animals who like to hide in the leaves and twigs used to make them.

But it's not all bad news, there are ways you can still enjoy Bonfire Night but it’s important to take precautions.

1. Bonfire Safety – The best way to avoid animals burrowing into your bonfire is to build it on the day you’re planning to light it, taking extra care to sift through all the leaves to make sure nothing is hiding there. Also, make sure you put out your bonfire properly to avoid fire spreading. If you’ve decided to avoid bonfires altogether but are wondering how you can have a traditional baked potato then the answer is simple: all you need it a barbeque and you can cook your potato in the same way wrapped in tin foil.

2. Firework Safety – Don’t have fireworks in an area where there are a lot of birds, particularly nesting birds and keep to open areas away from trees and bushes where animals will be hiding. If you have bird feeders/baths, take these indoors to make it less likely that birds will be in the area, or at least clean them afterwards to rid them of any harmful residues. Also, make sure to clean up all rubbish after you have finished with your fireworks to avoid them littering the environment. And even though fireworks might seem like a great way to celebrate someone’s birthday in April, try and keep to the set days throughout the year when fireworks are let off to minimize disruption. 

It’s probably easier and safer to visit an organized fireworks event in your area, but if you do plan to let off fireworks yourself, hopefully this advice will allow you to enjoy Bonfire Night safely. So whatever you do, have a great time and sleep easy knowing that many birds and animals were able to do the same thanks to you.