10 Bonfire Safety Tips | News | Loyola Medicine
Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Teen Bonfires Can Cause Serious Injuries, Loyola Medicine Burn Surgeon Warns

Large bonfire at dusk.
MAYWOOD, IL – Building a bonfire has become a popular activity among teenagers, but a big fire can result in serious burn injuries, cautions Loyola Medicine burn surgeon Arthur Sanford, MD.
"The only guaranteed way to prevent bonfire burn injuries is to not have a fire in the first place," Dr. Sanford said. "But if you do decide to have a fire for a prom, graduation or other occasion, there are simple ways to minimize the risk of burns."
Dr. Sanford recommends the following safety tips:
  • Check the weather. If high winds are forecast, cancel the bonfire.
  • Make a fire pit and clear all brush from the area.
  • Keep a bucket of water and garden hose nearby.
  • The safest way to start a fire is with newspapers and small kindling. If you have to use charcoal lighter fluid, make sure to seal the container and keep it well away from the fire. Never use lighter fluid once the fire has started.
  • Never use an accelerant such as gasoline, diesel fuel or kerosene.  
  • Do not spray aerosols or toss canisters or fireworks into the fire.
  • Limit the bonfire to a manageable size – no more than about four feet by four feet.
  • Keep a safe distance from the fire, and don't horse around.
  • Do not drink alcohol.
  • Make sure to put the fire out completely – stir the ashes and douse thoroughly with water. (Loyola's burn center has treated multiple patients who suffered burns after inadvertently walking on ashes.)
Loyola Medicine operates one of the largest burn centers in the Midwest. Its multidisciplinary approach and outstanding outcomes are recognized by the American College of Surgeons and American Burn Association.

About Loyola Medicine and Trinity Health

Loyola Medicine, a member of Trinity Health, is a quaternary care system based in the western suburbs of Chicago that includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, MacNeal Hospital and convenient locations offering primary and specialty care services from 1,877 physicians throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. LUMC is a 547-licensed-bed hospital in Maywood that includes the William G. and Mary A. Ryan Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, Illinois's largest burn center, a certified comprehensive stroke center and a children’s hospital. Having delivered compassionate care for over 50 years, Loyola also trains the next generation of caregivers through its teaching affiliation with Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine and Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing. Gottlieb is a 247-licensed-bed community hospital in Melrose Park with 150 physician offices, an adult day care program, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park. MacNeal Hospital is a 374-bed teaching hospital in Berwyn with advanced inpatient and outpatient medical, surgical and psychiatric services, advanced diagnostics and treatments. MacNeal has a 12-bed acute rehabilitation unit, a 25-bed inpatient skilled nursing facility, and a 68-bed behavioral health program and community clinics. MacNeal has provided quality, patient-centered care to the near west suburbs since 1919.

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic healthcare systems in the nation, serving diverse communities that include more than 30 million people across 22 states. Trinity Health includes 94 hospitals, as well as 109 continuing care locations that include PACE programs, senior living facilities and home care and hospice services. Its continuing care programs provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually. Based in Livonia, Mich., and with annual operating revenues of $18.3 billion and assets of $26.2 billion, the organization returns $1.1 billion to its communities annually in the form of charity care and other community benefit programs. Trinity employs about 133,000 colleagues, including 7,800 employed physicians and clinicians. Committed to those who are poor and underserved in its communities, Trinity is known for its focus on the country's aging population. As a single, unified ministry, the organization is the innovator of Senior Emergency Departments, the largest not-for-profit provider of home health care services—ranked by number of visits—in the nation, as well as the nation’s leading provider of PACE (Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly) based on the number of available programs.