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Countryside plea to leave barbecues at home as heatwave heightens fire risk

By Kirsty Brown

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Rural insurer NFU Mutual is making a plea to people visiting the countryside to leave barbecues at home and take extreme care to avoid starting a fire.

With soaring temperatures and tinder-dry conditions this week, many parts of the UK countryside are at high risk of blazes from dropped cigarettes, barbecues and campfires.

Recent moorland, grass and forest fires caused devastating damage to wide areas of the countryside and served as a stark warning about the dangers of wildfires.

Rural affairs specialist at NFU Mutual Rebecca Davidson said: “Months of dry, sunny weather and tinder-dry conditions this week mean that large parts of the countryside are at risk of fire – putting the lives of people, farm animals and wildlife at risk as well as damaging valuable crops.

“We’re urging people to act considerately when out and about in the countryside.

"Please don't take disposable barbecues on walks or start campfires, and don't leave litter and rubbish lying around.”

NFU Mutual claims statistics reveal the cost of farm fires totalled £46,400,000 in 2018, which was another dry year, and saw a 27.5 percent annual rise.

NFU Mutual's countryside checklist for avoiding fires is:

  • Don’t drop used matches or cigarettes – they can smoulder and start a fire.
  • Don’t start campfires or use disposable barbecues on grass, moorland or in forests.
  • Call 999 if you spot a fire while out in the countryside.
  • Avoid parking in narrow country lanes where emergency services vehicle access could be blocked.
  • Don’t drop litter – discarded bottles can focus sunlight and start a fire.
  • Follow national and local Coronavirus rules.
  • Keep to footpaths when walking in the countryside.

More information about safety in the countryside is available from NFU Mutual’s website.

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