It seems that every time you turn on the news or scroll through social media, you see a story about a wildfire or a forest fire. People lose their homes, animals lose their habitat, and thousands upon thousands of acres get destroyed. Unfortunately, many of these fires are caused by humans. If you plan to go camping this summer or to start burning a campfire in your backyard, there are three forest fire prevention and campfire tips you should know that will keep you – and everyone else – safe.
1. Choose a Proper Campfire Location
When you are camping, the best thing you can do to prevent a forest fire is follow the rules of the campground and use common sense when choosing your campfire location. If you are in an area that prohibits campfires or that is experiencing dangerously dry conditions, do not build a campfire.
If you are in an area where it is safe to build a campfire, use an existing fire ring or fire pit. Should an existing fire pit not be available and you are permitted to dig a new pit, choose an area that is at least 15 feet from your tent, trees, bushes, and other flammable objects and greenery.
Keeping in mind that “90 percent of all wildfires are started by humans, whether from arson, careless behavior, or lack of fire safety,” it’s important that you take extra precautions. Never place your campfire beneath low-hanging branches and always test the wind to ensure that your campfire is protected from gusts that could dangerously blow your fire toward flammable objects. Lastly, never leave your fire unattended.
2. Use Caution When Cooking Outdoors
Campfires are not the only reason that forest fires start or that people become injured while camping. Cooking outdoors also poses a risk of fire or emergency. Never cook inside your tent, even if you are using a camping grill instead of a campfire. Cooking inside an enclosed area can put you and others at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Also, if you are using a camping grill, be sure to change gas canisters outside the tent to avoid an accidental gas leak or explosion inside the tent.
If your campground has outdoor barbecue areas, or if you are barbecuing in your own backyard, use caution. First, make sure the barbecue is in good condition and proper working order before lighting it. If there are any loose or missing parts, don’t use it. Also, be sure it’s a safe distance from your tent, trees, shrubs, and other flammable objects. Finally, when cooking outdoors, keep a bucket of water or sand close to you should an emergency occur.
3. Burn Only Organic Materials
When you are camping or having a night around a backyard campfire, you may be tempted to throw garbage or other materials into the campfire. It is important that everyone in your group understands that burning non-organic materials could cause the fire to react violently and grow large quickly, which can lead to a forest fire. Be sure that you burn only organic materials like wood and leaves in your campfire.
If you are going to burn paper or cardboard, break them down into smaller pieces. Be especially vigilant when burning cardboard because it typically creates large hot ashes that float through the air and can start a fire outside of your fire ring or pit. If the wind is blowing, avoid burning paper and cardboard.
Everyone wants to have fun while camping or spending time outdoors with friends and family. Being responsible about your campfire location, outdoor cooking habits, and campfire fuel are some of the best ways to prevent forest fires and keep everyone safe while enjoying your time outside.
Image via Pixabay by Myriams-Foto