Build a Better Bonfire: How to Play Safely With Fire

Cool, crisp autumn nights can seem custom-made for a nice warm bonfire in the backyard. There’s no better setting for telling scary stories and making s’mores! But as cozy as that can be, the open flame also means there’s a safety risk—especially if there are children around. Before you light up your next bonfire, follow these tips to ensure a fun and safe night for the whole family.

  1. Build or buy a fire pit: First things first; you’ll need something that can contain your fire. You can buy a metal fire pit from a hardware store or you can make your own by digging a shallow pit, filling it with sand or dirt and surrounding it with stones. Place your pit at least 10 feet from any building, trees or other flammable items.
  2. Keep an eye on the weather: Check the forecast before you plan to have a bonfire. You’ll want to make sure that it’s not too windy, since a strong gust could push sparks onto nearby flammable surfaces.
  3. Light the bonfire correctly: Pile some small twigs and leaves in the center and light those with a long match or lighter. Gradually add larger sticks and dry logs to keep your fire fueled. Never use gasoline or lighter fluid as it can cause the fire to grow out of control.
  4. Don’t forget to put out the fire: When you decide to call it an evening, be careful when extinguishing the flames. Pour water or sand over the fire and use a shovel to disperse the ashes as they cool down. Don’t leave the fire unattended until all the burning embers have disappeared.
  5. Keep a close watch on children and pets: While your kids may know to avoid fire, accidents happen (and curiosity might get the best of them). Show them a safe path away from the fire and explain how far to stay from it. Give them glow sticks to hold so you can see where they are in the dark. As for your pet, think about keeping them inside to be safe (or on a leash far away from the flames if you want them outdoors with you).
  6. Wear appropriate clothing: You’ll want to be sure that you’re wearing non-flammable clothing (check the clothing tag to find out) and avoid fabrics such as nylon. Wear fitted clothing that will not be likely to fall into the fire and cover exposed skin to protect against flying embers. Always wear closed toed shoes (with hard soles if possible) and never go barefoot, as sparks could jump up and land on exposed skin.
  7. Be prepared for the unexpected: To be able to handle an emergency situation, keep water or sand nearby for easy extinguishing.

Here are some easy and tasty recipes you can make by the bonfire:

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