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Animal safety: celebrations with bonfires and fireworks

How to keep animals safe on bonfire night.

Hedgehog - square

Many of us enjoy a good fireworks display, but sadly, many animals don't, because their heightened senses mean that the loud bangs and whistles can cause actual pain in their ears. This includes domestic pets as well as livestock and horses.

Our local pledge

In 2020 we pledged to help to make fireworks safer and quieter. This can help everyone to enjoy bonfire night responsibly and prevents distress to pets and other animals.

We're also committed to encouraging all public firework displays within Uttlesford District Council's administrative boundary to be advertised in advance of the event.


Respect your neighbours 

If you plan to let off any fireworks, let your neighbours know in advance so they can plan for pets that might be affected.

If you live close to horses, let their owners know well in advance that you are letting fireworks off. Site your fireworks well away from them and aim them in the opposite direction. It is important to be considerate to horse owners as they cannot easily move horses away from fireworks.

Notify nearby farms and stables if you are planning to use fireworks. Do not let off fireworks if they will disturb wildlife habitats, or roosting bats and birds.

Keep all animals safe

On nights where fireworks are being let off, keep dogs and cats inside with somewhere to hide and give small outdoor pets extra bedding and nesting material to burrow in.

We are supporting RSPCA's 'Bang Out Of Order' campaign, encouraging the responsible use of fireworks and the adoption of tighter regulations concerning their use.

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How to keep your pets safe

If you or your neighbours are planning to celebrate bonfire night with fireworks, you can make them less frightening for animals. The RSPCA has published some helpful tips for keeping animals safe when fireworks are being let off.

They advise that you:

  • go to an organised event - this will reduce the overall number of fireworks disturbing animals
  • only let fireworks off on or around traditional celebration dates (Diwali, Bonfire Night, New Year's Eve and Chinese New Year). Most owners will already know to expect fireworks on these dates, and should have prepared accordingly to help their animals cope. Look for low noise fireworks and let your neighbours know well in advance to animals including horses and livestock can be prepared
  • never set off fireworks near livestock, as frightened animals, especially horses, can injure themselves when frightened
  • remember that fireworks can also disturb wildlife so steer clear of known habitats like lakes with waterfowl and trees with roosting birds
  • check bonfires for wildlife before lighting as animals like hedgehogs may be hibernating
  • pick up any firework litter after it has cooled down and dispose of it safely, as it can harm animals

Burning waste on bonfire night

If you want to use your bonfire night celebration to burn some waste the Environment Agency has made some recommendations.

Make sure the waste does not endanger human and animal health or the environment before, during or after burning. You must not:

  • cause a risk to water, air, soil, plants or animals
  • cause a nuisance through noise or odours
  • adversely affect the countryside or places of special interest