School is out and summer has officially begun! One of the things that I’m looking forward to the most is meeting up with friends over a bonfire. Here are a few safety tips to brush up on before your first bonfire.
- Review your local ordinances regarding bonfires.
Some cities have “burn bans” or may require a burn permit. This interactive map of Michigan can help you find information specific to your city or check your city’s website.
- Don’t use any accelerants to start the fire.
The fumes alone can create a trail of fire back to the fire starter or those in the surrounding area.
- Consider the weather.
Avoid starting a bonfire on a windy night so sparks are less likely to blow onto surrounding structures and trees.
- Don’t add combustible items to the fire.
This includes fireworks, bullets, batteries and aerosol cans.
- Wear proper attire.
Non-flammable clothing and hard-soled shoes with socks are ideal. It’s especially important to avoid being barefoot or wearing flip flops. This story about a Grand Rapids news anchor highlights the importance of proper attire.
- Be mindful of alcohol consumption.
Beer and bonfires often go hand in hand, but make sure you aren’t so impaired that you put yourself or your friends at risk for injury.
- Have fire extinguishing equipment available.
A rake or shovel should be nearby as well as a bucket of water.
- Teach children a safe path to walk.
Always walk behind chairs when moving around a bonfire. One little trip in the dark could lead to a terrible burn.
- Keep your pet’s safety in mind.
Keep pets out of the path of hot embers and fire sparks. From personal experience, I also suggest a glow-in-the-dark collar for dark-colored dogs. Our black Lab was nearly invisible in the dark and I almost tripped and fell over her into the fire.
- Put the fire out before you call it a night.
Fully extinguish the fire with the water and rake the coals to make sure they’re all covered.
For more information, check out Michigan DNR’s Campfire and Outdoor Burning Tips.
– Erica Surman, RN, BSN, Pediatric Trauma Program Manager, Beaumont Health System