Epsom & Ewell Borough Council are urging people not to take risks this firework season or to put additional pressures on emergency services, which are already under strain due to the coronavirus pandemic.
British history is colourful and full of intrigue. Bonfire Night marks the failed 17th-century attempt to blow up Parliament and assassinate the king. The king ordered the people of England to build massive bonfires on the evening of November 5th in celebration of his survival, a tradition we carry on today, with the addition of fireworks, jacket potatoes and hot chocolate.
Diwali, the Festival of Lights, is the biggest event in the Hindu calendar and is also celebrated by Sikhs, Jains and some Buddhists. As well as lights and decorations, firework displays can be a major feature of the celebrations. Diwali is a five day festival and this year, November 14 is the main day.
The traditional large organised events to mark both occasions have this year been cancelled, due to the ongoing restrictions on socialising in groups over six.
Epsom & Ewell Borough Council is urging people to be considerate and keep people safe if they are putting on their own family and household events in their back gardens.
Neil Dallen, Chair of the Environment and Safe Communities Committee, said: “While many people consider fireworks displays as one of the highlights of the year, some will be anticipating these occasions with dread. If you are having your own event, please be considerate for those around you, including notifying neighbours who may have pets.”
“We would also ask you to seriously consider not having a bonfire this year. Not only is there a risk of the fire getting out of control, we also want to maintain good local air quality. Bonfire smoke adds toxic emissions and particulate pollution to the atmosphere which can lead to lung irritations, something that none of us want in the present pandemic“.
An alternative to a bonfire could be a barbeque. If you must have a bonfire, only burn dry wood, never use paraffin or petrol. Keep your bonfire at least 18 metres away from houses, trees and hedges. Before lighting the bonfire, check it is stable and that you have some buckets of water nearby. Make sure that the fire is out and surroundings are made safe before leaving.
To save hedgehogs and other wildlife from suffering, bonfires should not be built until the day they are to be lit. If material is stored on open ground, dismantle it and move it to clear ground in a different spot before lighting it.
It’s against the law for anyone to set off fireworks between 11pm and 7am, except on some very specific dates, including Bonfire Night and Diwali, when the cut off time is extended to midnight.
Only buy fireworks from a reputable retailer (not cheap offers on line) and ensure that the individual fireworks carry the CE mark.
Follow the firework code:
• keep fireworks in a closed box and use them one at a time
• read and follow the instructions on each firework using a torch if necessary
• light the firework at arm’s length with a taper and stand well back
• keep naked flames, including cigarettes, away from fireworks
• never return to a firework once it has been lit
• don’t put fireworks in pockets and never throw them
• direct any rocket fireworks well away from spectators
If you are having any kind of event, remember to follow the latest government COVID-19 guidelines.
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