COLUMN: Halloween and Bonfire Night safety advice from Gary Platts

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I’ve got a bumper bundle of autumn safety advice for you this month.

With Halloween upon us, bonfire night is also just around the corner.

Both can present many safety concerns and call for care and caution.

Last year TV presenter Claudia Winkleman experienced the worst Halloween of her life when a fun evening of trick or treating quickly tuned into every parents living nightmare.

Wearing a spooky Halloween costume, Matilda, Claudia’s eight year old daughter, was engulfed in flames as she brushed past a pumpkin lit by a tea light.

Her costume caught fire instantly. Matilda suffered serious burns as her costume started to burn.

Now I don’t want to spoil your fun, but I do want to ensure that you and your family have a safe Halloween.

If you follow these top tips, I am sure the only nightmare you may have, will be if you run out of candy for the trick or treaters:

Only use electric (LED) tea lights in Halloween pumpkins

Keep Halloween costumes away from naked flames i.e. candles, pumpkins lit with candles, fires, heaters etc.

The fun doesn’t stop after Halloween as bonfire night is fast approaching too.

Without caution, fireworks and bonfires can soon spell disaster. I would urge everyone to attend an organised display this year. Not only are they safer, but with the high cost of fireworks, I am sure they are cheaper too.

If you do decide to have you own bonfire celebration, then please follow these important safety tips:

Only responsible adults should deal with fireworks

Keep fireworks in a closed metal box and take them out one at a time

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on each firework. Read the instructions by torch light and not a naked flame and always buy fireworks from a reputable source

Light fireworks at arm’s length using a safety firework lighter or fuse wick

Stand back after lighting

NEVER go back to a firework once lit, it may go off in your face

Keep a bucket of water handy

Collect used fireworks with care, douse with water and bury them or place in a metal container

Keep children under control

Keep pets indoors

Take care with sparklers – young children should not handle these

NEVER throw fireworks

NEVER keep them in your pocket

If you are lighting a bonfire, follow these safety tips:

Site the bonfire well away from houses, garages, sheds, fences, overhead cables, trees and shrubs and well away from your fireworks

Don’t pile your bonfire too high, rather keep adding to it to keep the size reasonable – much less chance of it getting out of control that way

Before lighting, make sure there are no animals hiding inside

Be careful when building the bonfire, so it does not collapse once lit

Don’t burn foam filled furniture, aerosols or tins of paint or bottles

Never ever use flammable liquids – paraffin or petrol – to light the fire

Keep everyone, especially children, away from the fire

In case of emergency, keep buckets of water, a garden hose or a fire extinguisher ready

When the party is over, pour water on the embers before leaving.

So if you do have your own bonfire party, remember - manage your guests, manage the fireworks and manage the fire! Keep it a reasonable size and, with plenty of bonfire toffee, pies and mushy peas and hot chocolate, everyone’ll be happy!

However, always call 999 if you think a bonfire is in danger of becoming uncontrollable.

Further information about keeping safe outdoors and bonfire safety can be found at