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Safety tips for successful hayrides and bonfires

Hayrides and bonfires are synonymous with the autumn season. If your church is playing host to either of these events as part of a festival, camp or other event, follow these tips, provided by the risk management experts at Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company, to play it safe.

Hayrides:

  • Arrange to have a responsible person provide the tractor, wagon and driving services.
  • Ensure that both the tractor and wagon are equipped with adequate road and safety lighting and warning signs.
  • Inspect the wagon's side panels for durability and stability.
  • Choose your route carefully and inspect it for hazards. Avoid major roads so that your hayride won't be subject to traffic snarls nor cause a traffic hazard for others.
  • Make sure there are plenty of adult supervisors in the hay wagon with the children or teenagers.
  • Enforce these two rider rules: 1. No standing or crawling in the wagon while it's in motion. 2. Nothing is to be thrown in or out of the wagon, including the hay or straw.

Bonfires:

  • Contact your local fire department for guidance before planning a bonfire.
  • Your fire department can help you be certain you are following all local guidelines and restrictions.
  • Inspect your site and build the fire at least 25 feet away from structures, vehicles, utility lines, landscaping and any other flammable materials.
  • Provide sufficient lighting both before and during the bonfire.
  • Never use lighter fluid, gasoline or other flammable liquid to start or grow a bonfire. The old-fashioned method of layering tinder, kindling and wood is best.
  • Create and enforce a perimeter around the fire to keep people at a safe distance.
  • Never leave the fire unattended.
  • Provide adequate supervision, especially if young children or teenagers are involved.
  • Keep the actual bonfire to a safe size: safety experts recommend no larger than three feet wide by three feet high. Do not allow anything to be thrown into the fire.
  • Be sure to have fire extinguishing equipment nearby.
  • Have a plan to safely and completely extinguish the fire at the end of the event.
  • Don't leave the area until the fire pit and the contents are cold.

Hayrides and bonfires are fun and festive fellowship opportunities. Proper planning and preparation can help you celebrate autumn while limiting risk.


This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be construed as legal advice. Readers should use this article as a tool, along with best judgment and any terms or conditions that apply, to determine appropriate safety precautions for programs and activities.