Fire, police and public health leaders in the South West, are urging the public to ‘do something different’ to celebrate Bonfire Night this year.

The emergency services see an increase in calls due to the annual celebrations, and services are already stretched by the effects of Covid-19.

Steve Quinton, group manager for risk reduction for Avon Fire and Rescue Service said: “Our usual advice for Bonfire Night would be to attend a properly organised display as these tend to be much safer.

"However, we know that this year our communities will be looking to mark the occasion in other ways. Regardless we want local people to have a fun and safe evening.

“If you are planning a display at home it’s important you only buy fireworks from a responsible retailer and that they carry European safety mark. You should always follow the Firework Code, store fireworks in a tin, never return to a lit firework and avoid drinking alcohol if you are in charge of the display.”

South West leaders have compiled a list of alternative activities:

• Stargazing – the natural alternative to fireworks – just find a dark spot in the south west – either from your home or in the country - and enjoy the night sky. There are many smartphone apps that help you to identify the constellations and help make it even more fun.

• Get creative in the kitchen – food is part of the bonfire fun, so why not make hotdogs, soup and hot chocolates, and embrace the bonfire fun in a different way.

• Firework painting – there are loads of ideas to make firework paintings online – some black paper or card and some bright paints are all you need to get started. Add straws or cut toilet roll shapes and you’re away. The kids will have a great time making vivid firework pictures.

• Watch firework videos – there’s no easier way to stay warm, dry, and safe this bonfire night than to tune in to live-streamed firework displays on YouTube. The displays will be more spectacular than your own would have been, they won’t frighten pets, farm animals, or children, and you can pause or rewind your favourite bits.

Group manager Quinton added: “If you are planning a bonfire at home it may be worth letting your neighbours know as this could reduce the risk of a false alarm at your property and ensure our crews are available to respond to other calls.

“Please be mindful of the effects of fireworks on animals. Although many of us enjoy the festivities, the loud noises and bright lights can be frightening for our pets and wildlife."

South Gloucestershire Council's cabinet member for communities Cllr Rachael Hunt said: “We are urging people in the area to show some consideration and respect for their communities this bonfire night. If you are planning on using fireworks at home, please use low noise fireworks.

“Remember always read the instructions in daylight; don't drink alcohol before setting off fireworks; wear eye protection, gloves and sturdy footwear; keep children away from fireworks at all times; and have a bucket of water nearby.

“We are currently amidst a global pandemic and we are asking people to stay safe and not to take risks that could put additional pressures on our emergency services.”

Anyone planning to have fireworks or bonfires at home should read the full safety guidance: