Bonfire Night…a thought for safety

It’s only a smidgin over 400 years ago that the cheeky Mr Guido Fawkes attempted to blow up the Houses of Parliament, in an act that I’m sure would’ve received as many ‘likes’ on his Facebook entry as #epicfail comments, and after a week of lighting small fires in pumpkins (yes….I forgot the candles) and making the traditional Guy effigies with my home-ed group, I thought it worthy to share some of the observations made by the children of the woods and myself.

One of the reasons I love Forest School is that it can empower children to think critically for themselves with regards to risk-management. We use sharp tools, we light fires that enable us to cook outdoors and boil water, we climb trees and use woodland that changes with the seasons and use of various groups. Through doing so on a regular basis, they really do develop a built-in and almost instinctive ability to recognise many risks and a potentially dangerous situation.

Only 413 years too late, this week there was concern from one of our attendees about the abilities of Mr Fawkes to carry out a suitable risk assessment. After a discussion about the set up of 36 barrels filled with gunpowder in a confined space and the risk that may have caused to his accomplices, we eventually agreed that his plan was by its very nature designed to cause havoc and ruin to all within, and that being accountable for his actions through a dynamic risk assessment sheet for insurance purposes was something that was unlikely to have altered his fate.

What pleased me most about our forest school group discussion, was that it led on to the the topic of the familiar spectacle of massive bonfires and firework displays taking place on the outskirts of every village, town and city throughout the land and albeit though at times it was flippant chit-chat, the children knew exactly how to be safe around a fire.

It’s a lovely event for many reasons. It’s the bringing together of a community both young and old, huddled on a cold November evening around a stack of wood in eager anticipation of its ignition. It’s the stalls selling tea, coffee and a sly-pint to wash down a toffee-apple that’s rendered you unable to speak. Then the fire is lit and it’s the slow-burn followed by the raging inferno that warms the crowd and warns them back a few meters. It’s the bustle and the bright-bedazzling booms and bangs of fireworks echoing across the cricket field.

If you are off to a public firework and bonfire display, make sure to keep an eye on your littl’ns and follow all the guidance of the services and the lovely volunteers in high-vis jackets. If you’re having a night in with a box of fireworks, don’t go firing them out the front of the house and across and over the roof of Mrs Richards 16th Century thatched cottage because your greenhouse is in the back garden! Follow all the safety advice given.

It’s a true British Tradition, and it needs to be kept a happy one. STAY SAFE PEOPLE!!!!

Check out this great infographic for some bonfire night safety advice and tips

Author: Nick Murphy, Manager at Exmouth Forest School site, The Outdoors Group

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