Why you need to take care with barbecues and bonfires during lockdown - and it's not just about fire safety

Northumberland residents are being reminded not to start bonfires that could cause problems for their neighbours, following a string of complaints.

Monday, 20th April 2020, 11:25 am
Updated Tuesday, 21st April 2020, 12:40 pm

This is particularly important during the current COVID-19 pandemic in order to keep the air clear and protect the respiratory health of the vulnerable.

The call comes after a number of complaints to the county council’s environmental health team about the burning of garden and household waste causing smoke pollution in neighbouring gardens.

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The authority is now issuing an appeal for residents to be considerate of their neighbours and not to light bonfires, especially as exposure to smoke can exacerbate respiratory conditions.

If residents have barbecues, they are asked to be very mindful of where they are situated and keep them well away from their neighbours’ fences and windows.

Liz Morgan, the council’s director of public health, said: “We know there are many people throughout the county who are shielding because of a serious medical condition or having to self-isolate for other reasons, so we would ask people to consider their neighbours and those around them who could be adversely affected by smoke and fumes from a fire.

“COVID-19 can cause significant respiratory problems for people who contract the virus and when they are trying to manage existing long-term conditions at home and following health advice by opening windows as much as possible, smoke from neighbouring properties or nearby allotments can be very unpleasant as well as causing breathing difficulties to become much worse.

“It is really important that we all consider others at this time.”

Coun John Riddle, the cabinet member for public protection, added: “We have seen throughout this pandemic the very strong community spirit in Northumberland with residents pulling together to support each other through this crisis.

“We’re asking if people could also support their neighbours by not lighting bonfires which can make life unpleasant for others.

“We appreciate that bulky waste collections have been paused and our recycling centres temporarily closed, but I hope people can work with us on this and please hold onto their waste until these facilities are operational again.”

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