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Fireworks FAQ

Chris Torney / 28 December 2014 ( 01 November 2019 )

If you’re planning to buy some fireworks to help your celebrations go with a bang, here’s what you need to know about buying them and the law.

Here’s what you need to know about buying fireworks and the law.

When can I use fireworks?

According to the law, fireworks can be used any day of the year between 7am and 11pm.

However, these restrictions are relaxed at certain times. For example, on Bonfire Night the cut-off is midnight and on New Year’s Eve it is extended until 1am. The 1am limit also applies to the Chinese New Year and Diwali.

Where can I buy fireworks?

You should buy your fireworks from a registered or licenced retailer.

Registered sellers face less stringent checks but can only sell fireworks at certain times of the year, typically in the run-up to Bonfire Night, and between Christmas and New Year.

You must be at least 18 years old to buy fireworks, and retailers can ask for proof of age if they think it is necessary.

Where can I set fireworks off?

It is illegal to set off fireworks in the street or any other public place.

You should also bear in mind the potential for fallout from your display to land in neighbours’ gardens, for example.

What type of fireworks should I buy?

The amount of space you have will play a large role in dictating the type of fireworks you buy. Products known as display fireworks state there should be a gap of at least 25 metres between the fireworks and spectators.

Garden fireworks, on the other hand, stipulate a spectator distance of just 5 metres or 8 metres.

As well as space, think about how experienced you are – garden fireworks might be a more suitable introduction to fireworks if you haven’t used them before, and may also be more appropriate for a younger audience.

For fireworks that provide all the colour and sparkle without ear-splitting bangs, look for packs labelled 'low noise' or 'quiet' – rather than loud booms, whistles or screeching, they have reduced noise levels with some being almost silent, while others crackle instead. 

How can I make sure my firework display goes off safely

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) has some detailed guidelines for anyone planning a firework display on its website.

The organisation suggests getting advice on how to use the fireworks safely from the retailer. RoSPA also says that the person responsible for setting the fireworks off should have a torch and  a bucket of water, as well as eye protection and gloves.

Also be aware of the affect of fireworks on others. Veterans with PTSD can be affected by the sight, sound and smell fireworks – find out more at PTSD UK.

For advice on keeping your pet safe, Dogs' Trust has tips, cat owners can find useful suggestions from Battersea Dogs and Cats home, while owners of small pets can head to Blue Cross for advice. 

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.