October 25, 2021

Cayman: CIFS remind public of bonfire safety

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CAYMAN ISLANDS (GIS) – The Cayman Islands Fire Service (CIFS) wish to remind the public how to stay safe if having a backyard bonfire, following increased reports in recent weeks.

As Deputy Chief Fire Officer, Mr. Roy Charlton explains, CIFS believe the increase has been driven by current measures in place to suppress the spread of COVID-19. “We understand that residents may have previously taken their own garden waste to the landfill or had it removed by landscapers and are now looking for alternative options to get rid of it,” he said.

“Bonfires can become dangerous if not properly controlled but there are simple steps the public can follow to manage garden waste effectively and stay safe,” he continued.

CIFS recommend mulching or composting leaves, to then use elsewhere in the garden as a more environmental choice instead of burning.

Smoke from bonfires can impact people’s health, particularly for those with existing or underlying respiratory concerns such as asthma or COVID-19. Small children and the elderly are more likely to be impacted by the efforts of smoke.  

Residents are reminded at this time to be considerate of surrounding neighbours as smoke may become a nuisance.

Additionally, under windy conditions, a bonfire may become dangerous and difficult to control.

If residents do still choose to light a bonfire, they are advised of the following safety tips.

•       Only burn dry material as damp material causes more smoke

•       Keep a bucket of water or garden hose nearby, in case of  emergencies

•       Don’t leave the bonfire unattended

•       Don’t use gas or any other fuels to get the fire going, as it may get out of control quickly

•       Don’t burn anything close to your house, shed, fence or under electrical wires and cables

•       Don’t burn aerosols, tyres, canisters or anything containing foam or paint. Many produce toxic fumes and some containers may explode causing injury

Most importantly, residents should call 911 in the event of an emergency.

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