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8 Tips for a Safe Backyard Bonfire Party

The warm weather is here. This means, the lyrics “Chest nuts roasting by an open fire” has been replaced by “hotdogs roasting in a backyard fire pit …” Yup, this means lots of people will be holding bonfire parties in their backyards.  Fire + party + lots of people = disaster waiting to happen? Hopefully not!  Follow these tips to make sure you have a fun and SAFE backyard bonfire party.

Safety First During Bonfire Parties

  1. ALWAYS always always have a source of water around, or a fire extinguisher.  This means: a hose that is turned on at the spigot, but turned off at the breaker on the end, with the end near the fire, or a few buckets of water, or a fire extinguisher.  Also, if you have a fire extinguisher, know how to USE it.  Use the PASS technique.  Pull the pin, Aim the nozzle at the fire, Squeeze the handle, and Sweep the nozzle back and forth to put out the fire.
  2. PAY ATTENTION to fire warnings in your area.  If the risk of escaped fire is high in your neighborhood, you might want to 1) postpone the party or 2) hose down all of the trees, plants, and roof near your bonfire. Also note that there will usually be minimum distances between buildings and fences to place your firepit. Check your local fire regulations.
  3. KEEP WATCH around children.  Children should NEVER be unsupervised around a fire – even if there is a fire screen.
  4. Use a fire screen on top of your fire bowl or dish to keep flying sparks to a minimum. Hot dogs also roast great on it.
  5. NEVER throw fireworks into the bonfire.  That’s just asking for someone to lose an eye.
  6. Use only “approved” fire starting substances, and use any lighter fluid according to the directions on the bottle.  More is NOT better, in the case of flammable liquids.
  7. Do not breathe on the fire to “get it started.”  You can end up actually inhaling the smoke and blacking out.  If you black out, you could fall into the fire, just like that guy on Survivor a few years back.  That’ll put an end to your fun evening, ASAP.

  8. Mmmm, hotdogs in the fire!
  9. Use green twigs, or hot dog roasters to roast hot dogs and marshmallows.  You may want to keep a bucket of water around for dunking the roasters in after the hotdog or marshmallows are removed, so you don’t accidentally lay a “hot” stick on the ground that could spark a fire.
  10. (Well, we said 8, but this is an important one!)  Rake and remove all dry leaves and debris from within 20-30 feet of your fire before starting it. And have a phone handy to call 911 if the fire gets out of hand.