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Bonfire Safety for Your Next Fall Gathering


There are few things cozier than a blazing bonfire on a chilly fall night – complete with s’mores and other snacks, of course.

Bonfires are a great part of fall fun, but they can also be dangerous if you don’t take certain precautions. Campfires and bonfires send thousands of people to the emergency room each year with various burns or other injuries.

Here are ten quick and easy things you can do to help keep your bonfire as safe as possible.

1. Choose a safe fire pit.

There are several types of fire pits available. Some people actually dig a pit and put a bonfire pit into the ground, while others use a more portable, above-ground style. If putting a pit in the ground, surround the area with bricks or stones to decrease the risk of fire from sparks that may fly out. If using one that’s above ground, make sure it’s on level ground and that the pit has no wear or tear, such as rusting at the bottom. This can pose a fire risk, as embers could slip out onto the ground.

2. Keep the bonfire at least 25 feet away from anything flammable.

Regardless of what type of fire pit you’re using, it’s essential to keep the fire at least 25 feet away from any buildings, trees, shrubs or anything else that could be flammable – and more space is even better. Don’t forget to look up, as overhanging tree branches can also be a fire risk. Surround your firepit with non-flammable materials, like brick, stone or sand – even your lawn can potentially catch fire, and it’s better safe than sorry.

3. Check the weather.

You want to avoid having a bonfire on windy, dry days, as this is just asking for a problem. It’s much easier for open burning to get out of control fast in these types of weather conditions.

4. Check for any burn bans.

Along with checking the weather, be sure to check your local ordinances to make sure bonfires are even allowed in your area. Some states or municipalities don’t allow burning at all, at any time. Others will only put burn bans into effect during particular weather conditions. Regardless, be sure to do a quick check before planning a bonfire to make sure it’s legal to have one.

5. Keep a hose or bucket of water close at hand.

Unfortunately, sometimes even with all of the precautions, a fire can still spread beyond your fire pit. For this reason, always keep a hose, bucket of water or fire extinguisher close by when having a bonfire. That way if the fire does start to spread, you have the best chance of putting it out quickly and efficiently. Of course, if your efforts aren’t working – call 911 immediately to prevent it spreading.

6. Don't use any accelerants.

Never use gasoline or other accelerants to start a fire. Instead, build up your bonfire with logs and then use newspaper, kindling and a match to get it started. This method may take longer, but it’s much safer and just as effective.

7. Monitor all kids and pets.

Kids and pets should be kept at least ten feet from a bonfire at all times. We know it can be tough, as kids may want to roast their own marshmallows or hot dogs, but the safest thing to do is have an adult do this for them, then hand them the treat. The risk of a child getting burned isn’t worth having them do it themselves. Additionally, pets should be kept inside or far away from the fire as well to prevent any injuries.

8. Avoid loose-fitting clothing.

Sleeves that hang or other clothing that’s too loose is a fire hazard. Before lighting your bonfire, make sure that your clothing fits properly and doesn’t hang away from your body, to help avoid catching fire. And, if your clothing does catch fire – make sure to stop, drop and roll, over and over, until the fire is out. Call 911 for help if needed.

9. Keep a bonfire small and easy to control.

A small fire is much easier to manage than a tall, blazing bonfire. Keep a fire to a manageable size – we promise you it will still create enough warmth and light to be fun and effective for roasting any foods and enjoying for the ambiance.

10. Make sure the fire is fully out before leaving.

One of the most important things you can do when it comes to bonfire safety is making sure that it’s fully out before leaving the site of the fire. Put it out with water until it stops hissing and smoking and all embers are black. Mix it with a shovel and add more water if necessary. Feel the coals, embers and any partially burned wood with your hands to make sure everything is cool to the touch before leaving. Only when the fire is cold is it safe to leave.

Fire safety can be intimidating, but with these guidelines, you can help make sure that your next bonfire is all fun with no accidents or injuries.

Looking for even more fire safety tips? We have so many to share in our other blog posts -check them all out at

Tags: fire safety, Fire Prevention Month, education