Tips & News


Safety tips for backyard bonfires

While we transition from summer to fall, many Canadians are making the most of the cooler weather by enjoying controlled outdoor fires. As wonderful as enjoying an evening around a crackling fire can be, it is important to put fire safety first. Whether you are planning a big backyard bonfire, a campfire at a cabin or cottage, or an outdoor cooking fire, all outdoor fires come with risks including property damage, injuries, and even accidental ignition of widespread wildfires. Before having a backyard bonfire be aware of, and follow outdoor fire restrictions. Always follow your municipal bylaws, check for fire bans, and follow these tips for a safe backyard bonfire:

  1. Surround your bonfire with bricks, sand, or patio stones. This can help prevent grass fires or injuries caused by sparks or burning logs rolling out of the fire. Setting up your outdoor fire on a flat surface and using a well-maintained fire barrel can also help keep your bonfire contained. If you would prefer to use a patio heater, you can follow similar steps to keep it secure.

  2. Only burn seasoned hardwood. Other materials like tires, trash, leaves, or construction materials can cause excessive amounts of smoke and release harmful toxins into the air.

  3. Light your bonfire with small kindling or paper products. Using kerosene, alcohol, or lighter fluid can result in a fire that burns out of control, leading to a larger fire on your property, as well as increasing your risk of injury.

  4. Only light a fire on days when winds are low, and humidity is high. These weather conditions will reduce the risk of your fire burning out of control. Avoid a backyard fire during excessive dry periods. Check to see if there are any public fire bans before planning a bonfire.

  5. Keep the fire away from powerlines, tree branches, and neighbouring structures. Leave a minimum distance of at least five times the height of the bonfire.

  6. Have a source of water on hand. You will need easy access to a bucket of water or garden hose to quickly put out the fire in case of an emergency. When you are done enjoying the bonfire, you will need more water to fully extinguish it before leaving the area.

  7. Never leave the fire unattended. Ask another adult to keep watch. If no one else is present, always fully extinguish the fire before you leave — even if it is for only a moment.

  8. It is important to check with your local municipality or local fire department for any municipal fire bans or restrictions on outdoor burning in your area.

Rural and urban areas have different rules around backyard bonfires, fire pits, and cooking fires. Make sure you check out the rules and regulations for your municipality. Fines for not following the rules can be expensive. If you are thinking about a backyard campfire for recreation, or even as a landscaping feature, review local bylaws as well as provincial laws.

Sometimes accidents happen, even when you have taken all the right precautions, so it is important to be proactive about your insurance coverage as well. To review your existing coverage, or to get a new quote, AGR Insurance can help! Speak to one of our licensed brokers today by calling 1-800-668-0250.