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12 Things to Know Before Having Bonfires in Your Yard

During the winter, having bonfires in your yard can be a fun activity. Bonfires provide a place for friends and family to gather together and get warm. They also make a great place for cooking food. Not only can you roast marshmallows and hot dogs over bonfires, but you can also roast vegetables, fruit, bread, and much more. If you are interested in having bonfires this winter, read on. In this article, I'll go over 12 things you should consider before starting bonfires in your yard. Let's get started.

Home and Garden

Important Things to Know Before Starting Bonfires

1. Make Sure There Isn't a Burn Ban

Before you light a bonfire, check to make sure there isn't a burn ban. Residential and commercial burning of wood materials may be restricted during times of poor air quality. Ask your local fire district or local air agency to find out if a burn ban is in effect in your location. You can also sign up for alerts by getting the app Burn Ban 411. To find out if there is a burn ban, simply open Burn Ban 411 to see whether or not there is an air-quality burn ban in effect in your area. If there is a burn ban in effect in your county, you can click on the burn ban button to find out what restrictions are in place.

2. Get a Permit (If Required)

Some places require you to buy a permit in order for you to use a fire pit. The purpose of burn permits is to notify fire and public safety officers that there will be a fire in the area. This allows officials to be on alert for any problems, as well as to reassure neighbors who may call concerning smoke. The permit will be good for an entire year. Even if you don't need a permit, there will still probably be some rules you need to follow. For example, your bonfire must be located a specific distance away from a structure, and it can only be so big. Find out ahead of time if you need a permit for your bonfires, as well as any other rules you should be following.

3. Tell Your Neighbors First That You'll Be Having a Bonfire

As harmless as a bonfire may seem to be, it could be annoying to your neighbors. The smoke can blow towards your neighbors' properties, making the air-quality poor. Also, your neighbors won't be able to have their laundry out to dry if it's smoky because the clothing will then smell like smoke. Before you light your bonfire, tell your neighbors that you'll be having a bonfire and how long you plan to have it. That way, your neighbors can plan ahead of time when they should head inside. This will help you keep friendly neighbors. If your neighbors complain at all about the smoke, make sure you put out the fire or plan to not have any more bonfires in the future. Even if your neighbors don't complain about the smoke, it would be polite to not have bonfires too often.

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4. Know What You Can Burn

Another consideration to keep in mind when planning your bonfire is what you can and can't burn. Plastic, rubber, and painted material can create poisonous fumes and are therefore not always allowed to burn. Also, it is a criminal offense to dispose of domestic waste in a manner which is likely to cause pollution or harm to human health. Find out ahead of time what you are allowed to burn in your location. Untreated wood, paper, and garden waste should be fine to burn.

5. If You Are a Tenant, Ask Your Landlord If You Can Have Bonfires

If you are renting some property, you should ask your landlord if you can have bonfires in the yard. Your landlord may not allow bonfires in the yard, or your landlord may request that you have a bonfire at a certain distance away from the house.

6. Make Sure Your Bonfire Isn't Too Close to a Road

If your bonfire is too close to a road, it could harm drivers. Drivers won't be able to see if it is too smoky, and it will ruin the air-quality for people walking on the sidewalks. If you live right next to the road, it is best if you don't have a bonfire in your yard. If you are unsure if you are too close to the road, find out if there are any rules in your city about how far away from the road your bonfire must be. When you do have a bonfire close to the road, you should take care that it doesn't get too smoky.

7. Clear the Area Around Your Fire Pit

Because safety is always first, it is important that nothing is near your fire pit that could catch on fire. If you don't already have a fire pit, you'll need to clear out an area and build your own. It is extremely important that you keep your bonfires away from windows, trees, fences, hedges, and other flammable materials. Fires can quickly spread, so you should prevent a fire from starting by clearing out the area before building your bonfire.

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8. Get a Safety Screen for Your Fire Pit

Just as fireplaces need safety screens, your bonfire should have a safety screen on it. This will prevent sparks or flames from reaching flammable materials. Not only will a safety screen prevent sparks from flying out, but it will also protect you. In case you lean too close to the fire, you don't have to worry about the flames touching you. If you have young kids, a safety screen is definitely a must-have accessory. If you buy a fire pit, it may come with a safety screen. Otherwise, you can purchase a safety screen that will fit your fire pit.

9. Make Sure Your Fire Pit Isn't Too Big

Some places will only allow you to have bonfires if your fire pit is a certain size. Find out ahead of time what size your fire pit should be. If your fire pit is too large, you'll need to make it smaller before you have bonfires in your yard.

10. Make Sure Your Fire Pit Can Handle the Heat

If you purchase a fire pit, it is important that it is built for the heat. Many pre-assembled fire pits made of steel have been known to burn holes on patios. Before you purchase a fire pit, make sure it is safe to use. If possible, try building your own fire pit out of bricks or stones on your lawn.

11. Don't Light Your Bonfire on a Windy Day

If it is windy out, you should not light a bonfire in your yard. The wind will cause the smoke to blow and may even start a fire if the flames and sparks get blown. Besides, it won't be enjoyable to have a bonfire on a windy day. If there is just a slight breeze, it is probably safe to light your bonfire. Just remember to always check the direction of the wind. Remove any flammable materials downwind of the fire pit.

12. Have a Fire Extinguisher Ready to Use

Have a fire extinguisher nearby so that you can quickly to extinguish the fire. Other methods for quickly putting out a fire include using a shovel or water. You should have a hose nearby so that you can quickly put the fire out with water if you needed to. Before you leave the fire pit, make sure the fire is out. When you dispose of the ashes, make sure you keep them in a metal can that is used only for ash storage. Even after 2 or 3 days, ashes can still be hot enough to cause a fire. Do not discard hot ashes in a compost pile, paper bag, cardboard box, or anything that is flammable.

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Final Thoughts

I hope this article has answered all your questions about bonfires. As you can see, there are many steps you should take before lighting a bonfire in your yard. As fun as a bonfire is, it can also be dangerous if it is not used carefully. It is easy for sparks to cause fires and smoke to make the air-quality poor. Before having bonfires in your yard, contact your local fire district to make sure there is no fire ban. Your fire district should be able to tell you about any rules you should follow when having bonfires in your yard. Before you light a bonfire, you should tell your neighbors what you'll be doing. That way, they can plan ahead for when they should hang their laundry and if they should stay outside that day or not.

Once you start a bonfire in your yard, make sure you watch it. Always supervise young children, as they may accidentally get burnt if they touch the fire. Before you leave the fire pit, put the fire out properly. You can use a fire extinguisher, shovel, or water to do this. When you follow these rules, it will be much more enjoyable for you to sit around a bonfire. Even though these may seem like a lot of rules you have to follow, they are for your own safety and for the safety of others. I hope this article has helped you understand more about bonfires and how to safely have them. Have fun!

Mariann Foster

I am one of our content writers for Everything Backyard. I am a mother and business owner of Big Horn Mountain Alpacas in Wyoming. I love farm life, cutting my own firewood in the mountains, and participating in local trail run races.

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