Help protect the countryside this summer

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The combination of dry and hot weather is a recipe for raging wildfires. The lack of rain seen across the UK throughout June, combined with the sizzling hot weather over recent weeks, has resulted in a number of wildfires, notably the fires across Saddleworth Moor.

Every year fire is responsible for the destruction of thousands of acres of countryside, open spaces and wildlife habitat with some fires lasting several days.

NFU Deputy President Guy Smith said: “With much of the country affected by this remarkable run of weather - hot weather, high temperatures and lack of rain – we’re seeing widespread tinderbox conditions.  That’s leading to a significant increase in the numbers of wild fires such as the ones on Saddleworth Moor, Winter Hill and Marlow and that risk is only going to increase as crops ripen over the next two weeks.

“The NFU is urging everyone out and about enjoying the iconic British countryside to act responsibly and avoid lighting fires and ensure cigarettes and barbecues are put out properly. Please follow the Countryside Code and report any fires or any activities which could cause fires to the emergency services.

Sadly a number of wildfires are caused by human error. We all have a duty to protect the countryside, so if you’re out enjoying the warmer weather be sure to follow these tips to make sure you’re also enjoying the countryside responsibly:

  • Avoid using open fires in the countryside
  • Do not leave bottles or glass in woodlands
  • Make sure cigarettes and other smoking materials are extinguished properly
  • Only use barbecues in suitable and safe areas and never leave them unattended
  • Never throw cigarette ends out of car windows - they can ruin whole fields of crops
  • Ensure that your barbecue is fully extinguished and cold before disposing of the contents
  • Sunlight shining through glass can start large fires - take glass bottles/jars home or put them in a waste or recycling bin

What to do if you find a wildfire:

If you discover a wild fire on open land, advice from the emergency services is:

  • Get to a safe place. Wild fires can move quickly and in unpredictable ways
  • Go further away than you think necessary and put a natural fire break between you and the fire if possible
  • Note your location and call 999 asking for fire and rescue
  • Follow instructions from the fire and rescue service
  • Don’t stay around to take photos – go on social media etc

The dangers of sky lanterns

Sky lanterns set off into the night-time sky may look pretty, but did you know the frames can kill or harm farm animals, and the candles are a major fire risk to fields of crops and buildings. 

Once a sky lantern is lit, nobody knows exactly where it will land. Fields of livestock, standing crops, hay and straw stacks, farm buildings housing animals, thatched roofs plus lots more are all at a significant risk of being set alight.

Please don't use sky lanterns.

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Last edited:15 February 2019 at 13:02

Have your say

Mae Pleydell Pearce - 16/07/2018 21:26:48

It’s such a shame that I read articles like this but in reality nothing is done to prevent fires. A neighbour built a fire using a tractor, so big the flames could be seen over a neighbours house. It sorched a 40ft tree, fencing and was so large people stopped on the passing road to watch. It was right next to fields that had just been harvest .. so was dry hay. The embers could easily have spread the fire. All houses nearby had to close windows and stay indoors. Then they left it unattended. It was reported to environmental health and non emergency Somerset and Avon fire but more than 4 different people..but Nothing. They’re now re building for another monster fire. So it’s ok to write these articles, but when people are irresponsible and not only create a risk, but cause smoke and ash it’s ignored

John Osbourne - 16/07/2018 11:56:43

I am very glad you mention "sky lanterns". They are an absolute hazard, not only in respect of potential fires but also to grazing livestock and quite frankly, the damn things should be banned, period.

Bill - 16/07/2018 09:30:18

Sensible advice, needing one simple clarification. It says, "Don’t stay around to take photos – go on social media etc" For absolute clarity it should say, "Don’t stay around to take photos, or to go on social media etc. Get well away for your own safety."

Mitch - 15/07/2018 11:44:30

I wasn’t aware that glass bottles could magnify the sun’s rays and start a fire. That’s good to know. Many were probably taught as children how to burn paper with a magnifying glass using the rays of the sun, bird never associated the fact that a glass bottle could create the same heat. Thanks for sharing this.

Joyce Clarkson - 03/07/2018 11:06:06

Please can we get the government to ban the use of Chinese Lanterns as they are a threat to wildlife also in this present heatwave a threat to causing wildfires in the countryside

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