Reading, UK – Less than half (48%) of Brits hosting a bonfire night party with fireworks this year won’t read the instructions on their packets, with only 52% saying they will, according to research released today. While Bonfire Night has long been a testing time for fire, ambulance and police services, it seems that safety remains low on the public’s agenda. Research from public safety planning experts, Intermedix in conjunction with YouGov, finds that just one in three bonfire night hosts will prioritise safety, with more people prioritising the food and drink supply (34%) than the safety of their guests (32%). Amongst 18-34s, only 16% rate safety as a priority, fewer than prioritise the size of their bonfire (26%)!
The days around Bonfire Night are a major stretch for front line services, particularly fire services and hospital A+E departments. Fire and Rescue Services throughout the UK are called to attend 50% more fire emergencies on and around November 5 than on any other night of the year[i], whilst every year around 1,000 people visit A&E with a firework-related injury in the four weeks running up to the big night[ii].
While Bonfire Night incidents and attendances remain high (over 20 million people attend bonfires every year[iii]), government cuts since 2012 have seen budgets for frontline responders fall by up to 15% annually[iv], making high demand celebrations such as Bonfire Night and New Years’ Eve an ever-increasing safety challenge for fire, police and medical responders as well as the local councils charged with coordinating the local response to the celebrations. While councils are taking new approaches, such as the use of data to provide better safety on tightened budgets, each Bonfire Night is accompanied by pleas from fire officers for better public safety.
Despite this, more than half of firework related injuries take place at private events[v], who often fail to follow basic fire safety code laid out by the Royal Association for Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA).
Ian Carr, VP EMEA, Intermedix, comments “20 million people will be at bonfires this week, yet only a third of those hosting bonfires will be prioritising safety. As such, the council, fire brigade and ambulance services have to get it right. With ever tighter budgets, that’s getting harder but it’s still doable if bonfire goers take basic safety precautions, and councils plan well.”
- “Ensuring that my guests have an enjoyable time” is bonfire night hosts’ most common priority at 45%
- 34% of hosts will prioritise ensuring their guests have enough to eat or drink
- 32% of hosts will prioritise the safety of their guests and property
When asked what precautions they would be taking on the night for their bonfire or fireworks, party hosts responded:
- 96% Don't know
- 01% None of these
- 78% Ensuring that emergency services are easily able to access the event site in case of emergency
- 29% Checking the weather forecast in advance, for the day/night of the planned event
- 36% Ensuring that fire-fighting equipment is close to hand, such as a bucket of water
- 71% Wearing appropriate clothing when setting up the bonfire and/or fireworks display
- 65% Ensuring that attendees are a safe distance from the bonfire and/or fireworks display
When asked what precautions they would be taking on the night for their bonfire, party hosts responded
- 25% Putting water on the bonfire at the end of the evening
- 42% Keeping the bonfire away from fences and sheds
When asked what precautions they would be taking on the night for their fireworks, party hosts responded
- 23% Checking for firework safety instructions online
- 52% Reading the instructions on the fireworks packet
18-34s prioritise the size of their bonfire most highly (26%) compared to other age groups, while 16% prioritise safety – less than any other age group.
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,110 adults, of which 230 are planning on hosting an event for bonfire night. Fieldwork was undertaken between 31st October - 1st November 2016. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).
[ii] St John Ambulance - http://www.sja.org.uk/sja/about-us/latest-news/bonfire-night.aspx
[iv] Press Association