Sitting around a bonfire with family and friends is a fun pastime. When we roast marshmallows and spend time with friends, it’s easy to forget about the risk factors involved with outdoor fires. Here are some safety guidelines to follow before the first match is lit.
Building a bonfire
Fire can spread easily, so where and how you build your bonfire is important. If you have a bonfire, follow these simple guidelines:
Check the weather. Never build a bonfire on a high-wind night.
Wear non-flammable clothing when starting, sitting by or extinguishing the fire. Wear hard-soled shoes instead of rubber sneakers or flip flops, as leaping sparks could cause them to ignite.
Warn your neighbors beforehand - they are much less likely to complain.
Light the bonfire at a time least likely to affect your neighbors - for example, not on a warm day when people will be in their garden.
Only burn dry material not damp, which causes more smoke.
Build the bonfire away from sheds, fences and trees.
Check if there are no cables, like telephone wires, above the bonfire.
Don’t use petrol or paraffin to get the fire going as it may get out of control quickly.
Keep a bucket of water or garden hose nearby in case the fire begins to spread. It is important to be prepared in case of emergency.
Bonfire safety tips
Once the bonfire is lit, make sure you:
Don’t leave the bonfire unattended.
Keep children and pets away from the bonfire.
Don’t throw any fireworks into the fire.
Don't burn aerosols, tires, canisters or anything containing foam or paint - many produce toxic fumes and some containers may explode, causing injury.
The pile shouldn't be bigger than 5'x5' to keep the flames containable.
Put out the fire safely
When the evening comes to a close, and you’ve let the fire burn out, use a shovel to spread out the ashes and let them cool down. Slowly pour water over the ashes and monitor them closely to be sure that no burning embers remain. Place the cooled ashes in a metal can that is designated for ash storage only. You should not leave the site until you know the fire is fully out.
If you plan on having a bonfire this summer, talk to your independent insurance agent about insurance coverage you may need to protect your family, your home and your assets.
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