Bonfire Safety

As we’ve just had November 5th or bonfire night as it’s often known, we thought we would be topical and write about some of the less savoury things that sometimes go on in the name of Guy Fawkes.

Bonfires, sizzling sausages, hot jacket potatoes, and sparkling fireworks might all seem pretty innocent as long as safety is taken into consideration. But November the 5th (apart from the obvious) can have a more sinister side.

Not many people realise that part of the job of an Environmental Health Officer is to ensure that illegal waste is not being disposed of and illegally burnt under the cover of bonfire night.

Smoke from any fire contains particles and chemicals that aren’t good for humans or animals. This is even more serious if the items being burnt are not supposed to be disposed of in that way, or even if the wood being burnt is damp. Smoke of course travels and not only affects you and your family but could affect your whole community.

Official organisers of events are given a list by the Environment Agency so they understand what they can put on the bonfire and how to do so safely.

But what if you are just having a bonfire in your garden? You could easily break the law and cause danger without even realising. So, we thought it was worthwhile popping the relevant parts of the EA list here so you can enjoy your bonfire safely.

  • Make sure you are only burning clean, dry untreated, and unpainted wood.
  • Only use small amounts of cardboard and paper to start the fire.
  • Check you know where the material for your fire has come from.
  • Keep your site secure so that others can’t add waste to the pile as this will become your responsibility.
  • Make sure your bonfire is an appropriate size for the space.
  • Do not burn unsuitable wastes such as plastic, rubber, glass, oils, or metal.

Of course, most of this is obvious, but things like the condition of any wood you intend to burn may be less so.

If you’ve already celebrated Guy Fawkes or you’re planning to do it next weekend, these are all good tips for the future, and make sure there’s nothing more sinister than a Guy (pretty sinister) on your bonfire.

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