Summer Safety Alert: Bonfires and Seniors

  • July 17, 2017

Some of the best summer evenings in Indiana are those spent around bonfires. The burning of logs against the night sky is all it takes to bring friends and family together ‘round the fire for good times, laughter, and the occasional roasting of marshmallows. 

Bonfire Safety Alert

While bonfires create the perfect ambiance for winding down your summer day, they do pose a safety risk. Caregivers and seniors should refresh their safety knowledge before their next bonfire event. 

More often than people realize, what starts out as a fun evening throwing wood on the pile and gazing at dancing flames can quickly turn into an unfortunate disaster. From errant sparks to bad decision-making, there’s a lot that can go wrong. 

The problem lies here: bonfires, unlike fire pits, are not confined to a metal container or a dug-out pit. Therefore, they require extra attention. They’re also bigger and not as easy to contain or control. 

People need to be attendant, alert, and fast-acting. 

If you’re planning a bonfire or two this summer, here’s some bonfire safety advice. It applies to caregivers, seniors, and anyone who loves spending an evening around the campfire. 

Bonfire Safety Advice

  • Setting Up Your Bonfire
    • Choose your bonfire site carefully: place it well away from buildings, sheds, fences, and shrubs. 
    • When choosing your bonfire site, always look up. Make sure there are no overhead cables or low-hanging limbs above your site. 
    • Locate your fire at a minimum of 50 feet from the nearest building.
    • Don’t build your fire under or even near a covered porch.
  • Preparing the Site
    • Once you’ve chosen a free and clear site that’s well away from structures and plants, now clear the area. Remove dead and dry plant material, which could easily ignite if sparks shoot out of your fire. 
    • Check and make sure there are no flammable substances in the area. 
    • Look around — especially downwind — and check for flammable materials. If the wind suddenly carries your fire away from the bonfire area, you won’t want to be starting a second fire. 
  • Building Your Fire
    • Keep the initial fire pile small. Resist the temptation to erect a mega-pyre. Large fires like that can burn too hot and too fast. If the wind catches such a fire, the risk is tremendous. If you have a lot to burn, add burn materials gradually. 
    • If you plan on burning old furniture, take extra precautions. The chemical coatings can burn higher and faster than you’re able to control. 
    • Do not use pressure-treated wood, especially if it’s CCA-treated wood. When burned, it releases toxic chemicals. 
    • Don’t try and burn pressurized containers, since they may explode. 
  • Starting Your Fire
    • There’s nothing more grand and glorious than an explosive, roaring start to your bonfire. However, do not pour flammable liquids on the fire to get it started. Paper should work just fine. 
    • To light your fire, light a long stick. 
  • Tending Your Fire
    • Alcohol and fire-tending do not go hand-in-hand. 
    • Never leave the fire unattended. 
    • At the end of the night, put out the fire completely. Carefully pour water over the embers. Keep an eye on the area for a while afterwards to make sure nothing flares up again. 

Enjoying the simple pleasures of summer is part of what makes summertime so much fun in Indiana. From gathering around a great bonfire on a July evening to enjoying a ballgame at a local stadium, summer provides endless opportunities for seniors to be social and remain active. 

Life Lived to the Fullest at Five Star Senior Living

Here at Five Star Senior Living, our residents enjoy summer in a variety of fun ways. It’s part of our Lifestyle360 program, which emphasizes all forms of wellness. If you’d like to know more, call to schedule a tour today. 


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