The Safe Way to Light Up
Bonfires are 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 as many accidents occur each year, causing harm to people and property, due to poor bonfire safety. Take the following into account before you pick up the matches.
Think about position. Make sure your bonfire is sited well away from property and garden structures such as sheds.
Check the weather. You’re probably worried about rain ruining a bonfire, but if it’s particularly windy, delay to another day or your bonfire may quickly get out of control.
Think of others. Let your neighbours know you’ll be lighting a bonfire so they can shut their windows or bring in their washing if necessary. Most neighbours don’t mind the occasional bonfire, but if you’re burning things on a regular basis it could be considered a nuisance. If you have a lot of waste to deal with, look for alternative methods of disposal, such as composting.
Keep kids under control. Children love bonfires and easily get over excited. Ensure they understand good fire safety and keep a safe distance away from the bonfire.
Protect pets. They may become frightened. Keep cats and dogs inside, and check underneath the bonfire for wildlife such as hedgehogs or birds before lighting up.
Think about what you are burning. Don’t just pile all your old rubbish onto the bonfire, as many things are not safe to burn. Apart from the obvious, such as aerosols and paint tins, foam furniture can give off harmful fumes. Some types of plant leaves can also emit poisonous fumes when burnt.
Have a source of water nearby. In case the fire threatens to grow out of control you don’t want to rush inside for a bucket at the last minute, so keep a pail of water or a hosepipe close by.
Don’t leave the bonfire unattended. A responsible adult should remain close at all times while it’s lit. Once the fire is burnt out, the ground can remain smouldering and very hot for many hours, so damp it down with a bucket of water to prevent children or animals from hurting themselves.