Bonfires are a beloved tradition, especially during the winter months. Whether you’re enjoying a bonfire in your back garden, at an organised event, or at a family or friend’s, it’s crucial to prioritise the safety of the kids. By following some essential guidelines, you can ensure that your children have a fun and safe experience around the bonfire. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore various aspects of bonfire safety for children, including precautions for fireworks, sparklers, and bonfires themselves.
Checking the Weather and Having a Safety Plan in Place
Before starting any bonfire activities, it’s crucial to check the local weather advisory. Pay attention to wind direction and any fire advisories in your community. This information will help you determine if it is safe to proceed with your bonfire plans. Additionally, having a safety plan in place is essential. Ensure that you have the necessary tools to extinguish the fire quickly, such as free-flowing water, a fire extinguisher (class A or class B), or access to a water hose. It’s also a good idea to keep sand nearby, as it can help douse the flames if the fire gets out of hand. Don’t forget to have a mobile on hand for emergencies and a fire-aid kit or bandages to treat minor burns or injuries.
Setting Up a Safe Distance from the Fire
Choosing the right location for your bonfire is crucial for ensuring the safety of your children. The fire pit should be at least 21 feet away from your home, and flammable furniture should also be kept a safe distance away. Establish a clear “safety zone” for your kids, ensuring they understand the boundaries and the importance of staying within them. It’s recommended to have a distance of at least 6 feet, but you can adjust this based on your personal preferences and the specific circumstances. Remember to avoid bringing any flammable furniture or objects too close to the fire.
Supervising Children and Practicing Adult Supervision
While it’s essential to teach children about fire safety, it’s equally important to provide adult supervision at all times. Even if your children are older and appear responsible, accidents can happen, and it’s crucial to have someone with a cool level head to handle any unforeseen situations. Designate at least one person to keep a watchful eye on the children, ensuring their safety throughout the bonfire experience. Remember, accidents can occur regardless of a child’s age or maturity level, so it’s best to err on the side of caution and have constant supervision.
Choosing Safe Clothing and Avoiding Flammable Materials
When it comes to clothing, it’s important to choose attire made from non-flammable materials. Encourage your children to avoid wearing highly flammable fabrics such as nylon, polyester, or linen when around the bonfire. Instead, opt for clothing made from materials like wool, which are less likely to catch fire. Additionally, ensure that everyone, including children, wears appropriate footwear to protect their feet from flying embers. Open-toed shoes should be avoided, as they can leave toes vulnerable to burns.
Discouraging Throwing Objects into the Fire
While it may be tempting for children to throw objects into the fire, it’s important to discourage this behavior. Tossing items into the fire can be dangerous, as they can cause sparks to fly back or increase the risk of accidents when children get too close to the flames. Common items like plastic bottles, bottle caps, and empty soda cans should never be thrown into the fire. However, you can create a designated “throw basket” with safe items like twigs or marshmallows for children to throw into the fire under supervision. Make it clear that anything not approved by parents should not be thrown into the fire.
Knowing When to Seek Emergency Care
Accidents can still happen despite taking precautions. If a burn occurs, it’s important to assess the severity and seek appropriate medical care. For minor burns, such as a tiny ember on the hand, running cool water over the affected area can help soothe the pain. However, for more serious burns or if your child is still in pain, it is essential to call a healthcare provider. Any burns outside of a regular kitchen burn should be evaluated by a medical professional. When in doubt, it’s always better to seek medical attention to ensure proper care and treatment.
Never Leaving the Fire Unattended
Leaving a fire unattended is a significant safety risk. Whether you’re at a campsite or in your backyard, it’s crucial never to turn your back on a live fire. Throughout the bonfire event, make sure someone is always watching the fire closely. When it’s time to end the bonfire, ensure the fire is completely extinguished. Even the tiniest flame can pose a risk of starting a fire if left unattended. Always make sure the fire has come to a complete stop before leaving the area.
Firework Safety Tips WITH Children
Fireworks are often a highlight of bonfire celebrations. However, it’s crucial to prioritise safety when handling fireworks, especially when children are involved. Here are some essential firework safety tips to ensure a fun and safe experience:
- Children should never handle or light fireworks. Fireworks should only be handled by responsible adults who are knowledgeable about firework safety.
- Maintain a safe distance from lit fireworks, even if they haven’t gone off. Sparks can still fly and cause injury.
- Keep pets indoors during firework displays to prevent them from getting scared or injured.
- Avoid using combustible substances or accelerants to start fireworks. Never spray gasoline or lighter fluid onto a fire, as it can cause dangerous flames and lead to severe injuries.
- Teach children about the potential dangers of fireworks and the importance of respecting safety guidelines.
Staying Safe with Sparklers
Sparklers are popular among children but can also pose risks if not handled properly. Follow these sparkler safety tips to ensure a safe experience:
- Children should always be supervised by an adult when using sparklers.
- Wear gloves when holding sparklers to protect hands from heat and sparks.
- Keep a bucket of sand or water nearby to properly dispose of used sparklers. Do not bury them in sand or cover them with dirt, as this can lock in heat and pose a danger.
- Teach children to keep sparklers away from their face, clothes, and other people to prevent burns or injuries.
- Avoid giving sparklers to children under the age of five. Younger children may not have the coordination or understanding to handle sparklers safely.
Ensuring Bonfire Safety at Home
Whether you’re enjoying a bonfire in your back garden or at a family or friend’s house, the following safety tips apply:
- Always check local regulations and guidelines regarding bonfires and follow them accordingly.
- Choose a suitable location for the bonfire, away from any flammable materials or structures.
- Keep a safe distance from the fire and establish clear boundaries for children to prevent accidents.
- Use appropriate firewood, such as seasoned hardwood, to ensure a controlled and safe fire.
- Have a plan in place for extinguishing the fire, whether it’s with water, sand, or a fire extinguisher.
- Avoid overconsumption of alcohol, as impaired judgment can lead to accidents and injuries around the fire.
- Teach children about the dangers of fire and establish rules and boundaries to ensure their safety.
- Never leave a fire unattended and ensure it is completely extinguished before leaving the area.
By following these bonfire safety tips, you can create a fun and safe environment for children to enjoy the magic of bonfires, fireworks, and sparklers. Remember, prioritising safety is crucial to ensure a memorable and injury-free experience for the whole family.