Aviva's 10 ten tips to prevent the surge of home fires on 5th November

Bonfire-night

As lockdown restrictions curb community events, Aviva is urging caution for households who plan to celebrate Bonfire Night at home.

Data from the insurer shows fire claims increased by two thirds (66%*) between 5th and 7th November last year, compared to the rest of the month. In 2018, the increase was even more remarkable on November 5th, with claims increasing by 150%, compared to the rest of the month.

Claims during this period included damage to fences, sheds and garages caused by out-of-control bonfires. Fireworks were also responsible for burning trampolines, artificial grass and in some cases, interiors of homes, when fireworks crashed through windows or were put through letterboxes maliciously. In one incident, a very loud firework cause a patio door pane to crack by the noise alone.

Earlier this year, Aviva saw an increase in fire claims during lockdown, as people burnt rubbish at their homes when refuse sites were closed. Home barbecues were also the cause of some 2020 blazes.

Sarah Applegate, Strategy and Insight Lead, Global GI, Aviva says: “With community bonfires off the agenda this year, many households may be planning to enjoy bonfires and displays at home. We appreciate that families want to celebrate, particularly after such a challenging year, but we’d encourage people to take even more care than usual, as so many individual fires and firework displays may be happening at the same time.

“Our records show that we tend to see an increase of home insurance claims for fire damage at the start of November.

"And it’s not just during the bonfires or firework displays where the risk lies. A number of claimants report disposing of ashes, only to find they were still hot enough to burn through bins or refuse piles.

“We also see quite a few claims where sparks have flown into neighbouring properties and gardens, so be sure to keep a watch on any stray embers. If people are planning to have a bonfire or fireworks, we’d urge them to do it with caution and stay on their guard.”

Aviva has the following guidance to keep people and property safe on Bonfire Night:

1. If you plan to have a display at home, make sure your fireworks carry the CE mark.

2. Be careful where you aim fireworks, particularly those which shoot into the air, like rockets. Make sure they’re directed away from people, trees and buildings, and never throw them.

3. Keep fireworks in a closed tin and never carry in pockets.

4. Don’t leave your bonfire unattended. Fires can get out of control in seconds, so make sure someone is watching over your blaze at all times and go easy with accelerants.

5. Be careful with what you burn. You should only burn dry materials such as wood and dry leaves. Bonfires should not be used to get rid of household waste such as plastic packaging and you shouldn’t burn aerosols, tyres, painted or treated wood, or anything containing paint or foam.

6. Watch the weather. Windy conditions can spread fires quickly over a large area. Flames and embers can stray into neighbouring properties and Aviva data shows fires can often start at a different address.

7. Take care when disposing of cinders and matches. Ashes can stay hot for hours after a fire appears to have gone out. Aviva has seen numerous claims where a fire has ignited after embers have burnt through a bin.

8. Think of others. While it’s not illegal to have a bonfire, neighbours can report you if they feel your bonfire is causing a nuisance. Be considerate about the time of your event too and keep the noise down. You could also face a fine if smoke blows across a road and hinders visibility.

9. Check your stack for wildlife. Before you set light to your bonfire, make sure there are no inhabitants, such as hedgehogs or nesting birds. A pile of sticks and leaves can make a cosy home for wildlife.

10. Be prepared. Keep a bucket of water or sand to hand, just in case.

Authored by Aviva

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