Bonfire Night – Remember, Remember the 5th of November

After Halloween, the next event in our social calendars is not far away. Bonfire night is fast approaching and plans to go off with a bang. Bonfire night may not be entirely food-focused with many of us warming our fingers and toes on the bonfire while watching the skies erupt with colour.

There still is plenty of food and drinks available at local fireworks displays that could pose a potential risk for those with a food allergy.

Typical food and drinks on bonfire night to watch out for:

  • Hot dogs   
  • Toffee apples  
  • Jacket potatoes  
  • Parkin 
  • Sausage rolls 
  • Hot chocolate  
  • Hot spiced cider  
  • Mulled wine 

If you are attending your local firework display and you or your loved one lives with a food allergy; we have put together some of our favourite tips:  

  • Talk to the food providers about the allergens in their food, as well as the risks of cross-contamination. At busy events like this, staff are more likely to make mistakes so it’s important they understand the risk of cross-contamination when preparing food.  
  • If at any time, when speaking to a member of staff about your allergy you are worried by their response or lack of understanding about allergies. Don’t hesitate to say no and try somewhere else.  
  • When your food is handed to you, without diving in straight away be sure to check over it carefully to ensure that it is exactly what you ordered. Don’t be afraid to send it back. If you notice or smell an ingredient, you are allergic too, ensure to tell the staff that even if they just remove that ingredient off the food, and returned the same, you could still have an allergic reaction. 
  • Pack your own safe food – If you don’t feel confident in the food trucks understanding your food allergy needs. It can be a good idea to pack your own prepared food, you could even try to recreate any of the above, so you don’t feel like you’re missing out.  
  • Always take your medication, carrying two Auto Adrenaline Injectors (AAIs) with you at all times.  

Bonfire party at home  

Whether it’s because your local council has cancelled the event or you’re not up for the crowds and queues, bonfire night can be just as good at home. We have put together four tips for how to keep your guests safe with allergies:  

How to plan a Bonfire Night party with a bang; and keep your allergy guests safe: 

  1. Check in advance about any allergies and take on board any extra information your guest may share around their allergy, including their medication and what to do in an event of an emergency. If food needs to be avoided completely, please believe them when they tell you! Even a tiny amount of food someone is allergic to can have serious consequences.  
  2. Keep the packaging of any pre-bought foods that are being served so the guest (or in the case of a child, the parent) can check the labelling.  
  3. When planning your menu, it is better to eliminate the food from everything that is being served altogether. Alternatively, a selection of different dish choices which eliminate the allergen is more inclusive than creating a bespoke dish exclusively for the guest with allergies. This also reduces the potential cross-contamination risks, when preparing dishes for other guests.  
  4. If eliminating the allergen is difficult, share your planned menu with the guest in advance. This way, they have the option of seeking out similar free-from foods to what is being served at the party and bringing their own plate of safe foods with them. 

Bonfire night and asthma/respiratory allergies  

Food allergy is not the only thing to be concerned about on Guy Fawkes Night.  Where there is fire, there will be smoke, and this can play havoc with asthma and respiratory allergies. If you’re living with a respiratory allergy or asthma, it doesn’t mean that you can’t celebrate.  With some imagination and thought, you can keep your smoke exposure to a minimum whilst enjoying the festivities.  

Smoke is difficult to contain, so to reduce smoke exposure in your home, make sure you keep your windows closed during your event or if you’re out for the evening. Being out in a smoky atmosphere can also cause harmful particles to cling onto clothes, hair and skin. Having a good shower when you get home will prevent you from breathing them in during the night.  

Holding an alternative Bonfire Night party could be just as fun and really keep smoke exposure to a minimum. You can find lots of ideas online, but here are some of our favourites:  

  • Replace sparklers with glow sticks  
  • Get some glow-in-the-dark paint and encourage the kids to go Jackson Pollock on some large sheets of paper. Or if you’re brave enough, the garden walls!  
  • Hold a Penny for the Guy competition. Instead of burning them on the bonfire, display them with pride and vote for your favourites with pennies. The Guy with the most pennies wins  
  • Hang solar lights or lanterns around your garden to add colour and atmosphere  

Whatever and however you decide to celebrate we hope you have fun and stay safe.