Each year, Accident and Emergency departments are inundated with adults & children who receive horrific and painful injuries as a result of bonfires at Halloween.
Siting and Construction of Bonfires
Sites should be a minimum of 18 meters from buildings, crops, trees and other combustible items.
Additional allowance in distance may have to be made depending on the strength and direction of the wind.
Beware of ESB overhead power cables, telephone lines, etc when deciding on the site for the bonfire.
Where the public will be involved, the bonfire should be roped off to a minimum distance of 6m around its perimeter.
Undergrowth on the site should be cleared, and any grass cut short in the vicinity of the bonfire.
The materials to be burnt on the fire should be carefully selected to exclude hazardous rubbish, e.g. aerosols, paint tins, drums and bottles which can explode, and tyres or foam filled furniture which give off volumes of black smoke and can fall off the fire when alight.
Care should be taken in the construction of the bonfire to ensure as far as possible that the bonfire is evenly built and will not fall over once alight.
Supervision of Bonfires
The site is to be under the supervision of a responsible person.
An adequate number of stewards should be appointed and should be clearly recognizable.
Before lighting the bonfire, check the construction, and ensure that no children or animals are inside.
Never use petrol or paraffin to light a bonfire.
Buckets of water and/or beaters should be available for tackling any small fires caused by flying brands.
Ensure that the bonfire is supervised by adults at all times and keep people at a safe distance back from the fire.
The location of the nearest telephone and the arrangements for calling the fire service should be known to the responsible person and stewards.
If the bonfire gets out of control, dial 112 for the Fire & Rescue Service immediately.
The stewards / responsible persons should ensure that the fire is fully extinguished before leaving the bonfire area
Fire Safety at Christmas
Place real Christmas trees securely in a sturdy base filled with water – metal stands cause trees to dry out and become flammable.
Check water level daily
Ensure artificial trees have been pre-treated to increase flame resistance
Keep tree away from candles, heaters, fireplaces or other heat sources
Dispose of tree properly – never burn a real tree in the fireplace
Only buy Christmas lights marked with a safety standard
Make sure a competent person checks all connections and examines the wiring for fraying
If in doubt, throw them out.
Don’t overload sockets
Unplug all Christmas lights and electrical appliances before leaving your home or going to bed
Ensure lights are suitable for outdoor use
Check all wiring and follow manufacturer’s instructions.
Fasten the bulbs securely and point the sockets down to avoid moisture building up.
Never use indoor extension leads outside.
Keep outdoor electrical connections above ground and out of puddles and snow.
Ensure trees hung with Christmas lights are not touching power lines
An Office of the Director of Consumer Affairs (ODCA) survey found that consumers are exposed to serious risk due to the lack of advice when using candles and candle-holders. Of the 482 items inspected 117 or 24.3% failed a visual risk assessment either due to lack of warnings, warnings not provided in English or because the items clearly presented a safety hazard.
Remember when it comes to candles:
Keep them out of reach of children and pets
Trim the wick to 6mm (1/4 inch) each time before burning
Always use an appropriate candleholder placed on a stable, heat-resistant surface
Keep burning candles away from drafts, vents and air currents
Extinguish a candle if it smokes or flickers repeatedly or if the flame becomes too high
Keep the wax pool free of wick trimmings, matches and debris at all times
Do not burn a candle for longer than manufacturer recommends
Extinguish the flame if it comes too close to the holder or container
Place lighted candles at least 75mm apart form one another
Never place a candle on top of a TV set and keep well away from curtains
Always extinguish candles before leaving the house or going to bed
Never use candles on Christmas trees, even artificial ones
Remember hot wax burns!
Other Christmas Fire Safety Tips
Never burn wrapping paper in your fireplace
Keep strings of Christmas cards away from candles and open fires
Fit a spark guard in front of open fires
Extinguish cigarettes properly and do not let ashtrays get overfilled
Check that your smoke alarms are in perfect working order
Never remove batteries from smoke alarm to use in children’s toys
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