Stay safe on Bonfire Weekend

BONFIRE Night parties are set to peak over the weekend with activities at both public and private fireworks parties, and around 4.8m people will be putting their home and themselves at risk.

This time of year is a concerning one for most insurers, as the number of claims relating to Bonfire Night alone rise significantly compared to the rest of the year. For example, fire claims are nearly five times higher on Bonfire Night than at any other time of the year, while injury claims also increase fivefold according to data from Policy Expert.

Around 75% of claims result from fireworks, with 25% coming from bonfires that have raged out of control, said Policy Expert. The most common injuries are burns to the hands and arms, but can extend to smoke inhalation and even blindness.

So, what should you do to protect yourself, your friends and family, and even your pets if you are celebrating Bonfire Night this year? Here are our five top tips:

  1. Keep fireworks away from buildings and garden fencing or furniture – it may sound obvious that you would not want anything highly flammable near your house or anything else that could easily go up in flames. But you need to bear in mind with fireworks just how far they can travel, and how quickly.
  1. Do not throw petrol on your bonfire – we all know how tempting this can be, especially if the bonfire night is a bit on the damp side. But by adding fuel to the fire – literally – you could invalidate your home insurance if you had to claim because it went out of control. Best to try boosting it in other ways, perhaps by adding some dry paper to it.
  1. Check your home insurance if you are having a party – most home insurance policies will cover you for a bonfire party, providing you are sensible and follow safety guidelines, such as keeping all fireworks in a sealed tin away from heat, and you do not charge admission. To be sure, you can check your policy wording before getting people round.
  1. If you are going out to a party, make sure your own home is secure – Bonfire Night is noisier than normal, and provides the perfect cover for burglars to break in unnoticed, especially as so many of us will travel to public or private parties to enjoy the festivities.
  1. Keep your pets safe – bangs and flashes are enough to send some pets into a frenzy, so this is the one night of the year you really need to make sure they are well cared for. The RSPCA estimates that around 45% of dogs show fear when they hear fireworks, and in the run up to Bonfire Night there is around a 40% increase in the number of calls reporting pets missing by owners or found by vets, according to the micro-chipping database Petlog.

Scott Gorman of Sainsbury’s Bank Pet Insurance, said: “You should try to walk and feed them before dark and keep them indoors when fireworks are going off.”

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Written by Alison Steed

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Alison Steed

Alison is a highly-respected commentator on personal finance issues and an accomplished writer, editor and broadcaster, having worked on The Daily Telegraph’s personal finance desk for nearly seven years from 2000 to late 2006, becoming the deputy personal finance editor in 2004. After going freelance in late 2006, she has continued to maintain a notable presence in the national press and on both television and radio, writing for The Times, The Sunday Times, The Daily and Sunday Telegraph, the Daily and Sunday Express and The Sun. She has also made a number of appearances on TV and radio, including numerous appearances on Sky News, the Jeremy Vine Show on BBC Radio 2, and was the financial journalist behind the hit Channel 4 personal finance show Superscrimpers for the first five series. She has won eight awards for her writing, including Personal Finance Journalist of the Year from the Association of British Insurers four times in a row, which is still a record. She has also received the Living Legend award from Help the Aged in recognition of the campaigning work she has done on the issue of the mis-treatment of older people who need long-term care.

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