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Buying and using fireworks

If used appropriately, fireworks can be great fun. But they can also be dangerous – every year around one thousand people in Britain are injured as a result of fireworks.

Read about how to stay safe when buying and using fireworks and what to do if something goes wrong.

Top tips

Organising a firework display

If you are planning to organise a firework display, there are certain rules you may need to follow. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has some helpful advice and guidance on creating a safe event.

Organising a firework display

Buying safe fireworks

Make sure you buy fireworks that are safe and legal:

  • only buy fireworks from a reputable trader so you can be sure they have kept within the law. Don’t buy them from a van, warehouse or a temporary, unlicensed market stall
  • only buy fireworks marked with a British Standard safety number (BS 7114) or with a CE mark – this means the firework meets British or European safety standards.

All fireworks must be made by a licensed manufacturer. This licence is given to the manufacturer from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Traders who store and sell fireworks also need a licence from the local authority.

Top tips

Report an unlicensed trader

If you think a shop is unregistered, or selling fireworks when they shouldn’t, report them to trading standards. Your council will also have a list of registered sellers.

Report a problem to trading standards

Using fireworks safely

Here are some tips on how to use fireworks safely:

  • keep pets locked indoors
  • ensure fireworks are a good distance from buildings, trees, people or animals
  • follow the instructions on each firework
  • position fireworks pointing away from any obstacles or people
  • make sure they are firmly positioned so they don’t fall over or move once lit
  • always light fireworks wearing gloves and using a long taper so you don’t have to get too close
  • never attempt to relight fireworks if they don’t go off the first time
  • keep well clear of fireworks that have failed to go off
  • dispose of fireworks safely. They should never be burnt in a confined space
  • always hold sparklers with gloves
  • put used sparklers hot end down into a bucket of sand or water.

What’s not allowed

It is illegal for individuals to:

  • buy fireworks if under 18 years old. There are a few exceptions such as party poppers and cracker snaps which can be sold to those over 16 years old
  • set off fireworks in public places or in the streets. If you are under 18 and found with fireworks in a public place, the police can give you a fine on the spot
  • light fireworks between the hours of 11pm and 7am, except for Bonfire Night, Diwali or the Chinese New Year. On Bonfire Night fireworks are allowed until midnight and until 1.00 am for New Year, Diwali and Chinese New Year.

When you can buy fireworks

Fireworks can only be bought:

  • between 15th October and 10th November
  • between 26th December and 31st December
  • three days before Diwali and Chinese New Year.

For the rest of the year, you will only be able to buy fireworks from certain specialist licensed shops.

Faulty fireworks

If you have bought fireworks that are faulty, you may be entitled to a refund or replacement. If the fireworks are dangerous or unsafe, you must take action immediately.

Complaining about noise from fireworks

Complaints about noise should be reported to the Environmental Health Office of your local District Council.

Next steps

Other useful information