Summer time heat has many headed to the mountains for a cooler relief. Wildfires also have been a serious problem with dry conditions this year. With many of you traveling to campgrounds or the mountains in the next few weeks of summer. Here are a few helpful safety tips to enjoy those campfires.
Building a campfire, campfires are limited to fire rings in most developed recreation areas. Even these fires can reignite and spread embers to nearby trees and grass.
Build campfires away from overhanging branches, steep slopes, rotten stumps, logs, dry grass, and leaves. Pile any extra wood away from the fire.
Keep plenty of water handy and have a shovel for throwing dirt on the fire if it starts to gets out of control.
Start with dry twigs and small sticks. Add larger sticks as the fire builds up. Put the largest pieces of wood on last, pointing them toward the center of the fire, and gradually push them into the flames.
Keep the campfire small. A good bed of coals or a small fire surrounded by rocks give plenty of heat. Scrape away litter and any burnable material within a 10-foot diameter circle. This will keep a small campfire from spreading.
Be sure your match is out. Hold it until it is cold. Break it so you can feel the charred portion before discarding it.
Never leave a campfire unattended. Even a small breeze could quickly cause the fire to spread
Drown the fire with water. Make sure all embers, coals and sticks are wet. Move rocks, there may be burning embers underneath.
Stir the remains, add more water, and stir again. Be sure all burned material has been extinguished and cooled. If you do not have water, use dirt. Mix enough soil and sand with the embers. Continue adding and stirring until all material is cooled.
The forest is not the place for bonfires. Keep it small and maintained, and you will enjoy it all night. Beaches on the other hand, might be ok. Find out how your beach campsite host feels about bonfires before starting one though.
Don’t burn things like paper plates and napkins. When those light weight items burn, they basically turn into hot ash that flies out of the fire and can spark the duff, or surrounding trees, even your tent!
Make sure any trash you decide it burn is burn safe. Meaning it doesn’t release toxic chemicals into the air. If you aren’t sure, toss in the trash not the pit.
Feel all materials with your bare hand. Make sure that no roots are burning. Do not bury your coals-- they can smolder and break out.
Cover your campfire with dirt to make sure no embers reignite.
Information provided by the US Forrest Service, Firewise.org and Smokeybear.com