It's bonfire season! People get understandably jazzed when the weather gets cold enough to call friends, spark up a fire, share stories, food, drinks, and music, and maybe do a little bonding. The big draw of a bonfire isn't the fire itself; it's the way the fire has a tendency to connect people.
With so many people setting up fires, it's important to remember the safety rules. People tend to do okay keeping their fire contained, building proper boundaries for it, and staying a safe distance away. Anthony Joynes, who works with the RSPCA (the UK equivalent of the ASPCA), wants us to remember one more safety rule: Don't build your bonfire until you're ready to light your bonfire.
Piles of wood and stone collect warmth and provide hiding places for our smaller friends. If you leave creatures time to crawl in and hide, there's a strong chance they will get hurt. Bonfires are a holiday tradition in the UK, so Joynes knew the number of fire-related injuries would spike. He tweeted a heartbreaking picture showing just how bad it can be.
Warning: This may be hard to look at. The animal in the image is badly burned and did not survive.
Hedgehogs are not much of a concern here in the states, but we have many other small animals that are. Squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, snakes, lizards, possums, skunks, some birds, and countless other species are small enough to wiggle their way into our wood piles. One woman from Australia commented that they have a similar problem there with wombats. Joynes wants us to keep the local wildlife in mind and not build until we're ready to burn.
If that's not possible for whatever reason, Joynes says we should light from one side to allow critters a chance to escape from the other side. Maybe poke around the wood pile with a long stick before you light so you can wake up and scare out anybody who may be sleeping in there.
Being burned in a bonfire is painful and often fatal. Twitter reacted pretty strongly to the photo and message.
Now that you know this is a danger, will you be changing your bonfire habits? Let us know.