The Safe Way to Light Up

Bonfires can be a great way to deal with garden waste and people love the thrill of gathering around a bonfire with family and friends. However, if you are planning to light a bonfire in your garden, it’s important to plan ahead to ensure your bonfire is safe. Many accidents occur each year, causing harm to people and property because of poor bonfire safety.

When planning a bonfire, there are a number of considerations to take into account before you pick up the matches.

Think about the position
Where you position your bonfire is very important. Make sure it is well away from property and garden structures such as sheds.

Check the weather
You’re probably worried about rain ruining a bonfire but it’s more important to check for wind. If it is particularly windy, a bonfire can quickly get out of control.

Think of others
Let your neighbours know you will be lighting a bonfire so that they have the opportunity to shut their windows or bring their washing in if necessary. Most neighbours won’t mind if you have the occasional bonfire but if you are burning things on a regular basis it could be considered a nuisance. If you have a lot of waste to deal with it may be better to find alternative ways to dispose of it.

Keep kids under control
Children love bonfires and can become over excited so it’s important that they understand good fire safety and keep a safe distance away from the bonfire.

Protect pets and wildlife
Pets may become frightened when you light a bonfire so it’s best to keep cats and dogs inside. And remember to check underneath the bonfire for wildlife such as hedgehogs or birds before lighting the bonfire.

Think about what you are burning
Don’t just pile all your old rubbish onto the bonfire. There are many things that are not safe to burn from the obvious such as aerosols and paint tins to the less obvious such as foam furniture which could give off harmful fumes. Some types of plant leaves can also emit poisonous fumes when burnt.

Have a source of water nearby
If the fire does threaten to grow out of control, you’ll want a source of water ready to hand. You don’t want to be rushing inside to find a bucket at the last minute so keep a pail of water or a hosepipe close by in case you need to put the fire out in a hurry.

Don’t leave the bonfire unattended
A responsible adult should remain with the bonfire at all times whilst it is lit. Once the fire has burnt out, remember that the ground can remain smouldering and very hot for many hours so ensure you damp it down with a bucket of water to prevent children or animals from hurting themselves.

For more information about fire safety, visit the London Fire Brigade website:

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