Bob Harris - OUTDOORS and FREE - June 20, 2012
Always Be Careful With Fire and Smokes
The good weather has arrived and many folks are thinking about going camping and enjoying open fires in the outdoors for cooking their meals, roasting marshmallows or sitting around the fire to tell stories and enjoy each other’s company. That is all well and good provided safety precautions are taken to prevent wildfires from springing up afterwards.
It is important to know how to pick your spot for the campfire. Do not build a fire at a site in hazardous, dry conditions. Don’t build a fire if the area or campground rules prohibit campfires. Find out if the campground has an existing fire ring or fire pit. If there is not an existing fire pit, and pits are allowed, look for a site that is at least fifteen feet away from tent walls, shrubs, trees or other flammable objects.. Also, beware of low-hanging branches overhead.
1. In building your campfire pit from scratch, you will want to do the following:
2. Choose a spot that is downwind and protected from wind gusts and at least 15 feet from your tent and gear.
3. Clear a 10-foot diameter area around the site. Remove any grass, twigs, leaves and firewood. Also, make sure there aren’t any tree limbs or flammable objects hanging overhead and roots underground.
Dig a pit in the dirt, about a foot deep, and circle the pit with rocks. Now, your campfire pit is built and ready for preparation.
Before you start your campfire, you need to prepare your pit. Fill the pit with small pieces of dry wood. Never rip out or cut branches from living trees. Place your unused firewood upwind and away from the fire and keep a bucket of water and a shovel nearby.
A roaring campfire is both a success and a responsibility. It is your job to properly maintain and extinguish your campfire so that future campers can do the same. As you are enjoying your campfire, remember and follow these safety tips:
1. Once you have a strong fire going, add larger pieces of dry wood to keep it burning steadily.
2. Always keep your fire to a manageable size.
3. Make sure that children and pets are supervised when near the fire.
4. Never leave your campfire unattended for any reason at any time.
5. Never cut live trees or branches from live trees to be used for firewood or kindling.
Properly extinguishing your campfire is another subject. When you are ready to put out your fire and call it a night (or day), you should follow these guidelines:
1. Allow the wood to burn completely to ash, if possible.
2. Pour lots of water on the fire, drown all embers, not just the red hot ones.
3. Continue pouring on water until the hissing sound stops.
4. Stir the campfire ashes and embers with a shovel.
5. Scrap the sticks and logs to remove any embers that are left.
6. Stir and make sure everything is wet and they are cold to the touch.
7. If you do not have water available, use dirt. Mix enough dirt or sand with the embers. Continue adding and stirring until all material is cool.
Remember, do NOT bury the fire as the fire will continue to smolder and could catch roots on fire that will eventually get to the surface and start a wildfire. Also, remember that if it is too hot to touch, it is too hot to leave.
The other issue is don’t burn dangerous things like aerosol cans or pressurized containers. They may very well explode causing injuries and wildfires. Also, never put glass in the fire pit. Glass does not melt away, it only heats up and shatters. Broken slivers of glass around are dangerous. Aluminum cans do not burn either. The aluminum only breaks down into smaller pieces. Inhaling aluminum dust can be harmful to your lungs. Also, be thoughtful of others and the environment. Be sure to pack out your trash, take it home and dispose of it properly.
In today’s world, it is unfortunate that we have a smoker’s society that is often careless and thoughtless in their habit. I can’t count how many times I’ve seen people throw their lighted cigarettes out the car window to be blown around onto grass or brush areas. And they wonder how wildfires start.
Some years ago, there was a car that went down our street and someone threw a lighted cigarette out the window. It landed on our grass and started a fire. We were lucky that the fire department arrived in time to put out the fire before it could reach our house. But, that’s not all. How many people I’ve seen walking down the street smoking and just flip their lighted cigarette onto the sidewalk or street with no attempt to put it out beforehand. They show total disregard for safety or fire.
If you are a smoker in a car, please use your ashtray and extinguish your cigarette or cigar properly. If your vehicle does not come with an ashtray, buy one and carry it in the vehicle to be used. If you are walking, grind out your cigarette, cigar or your pipe tobacco in the dirt or on the cement, making sure it is not burning any more. Never grind it on a stump or a log or throw it away into the brush or leaves. Doing so could be hazardous. Also, be advised that it is unsafe to smoke while walking or riding a horse or trail bike because you never know where the ash from your smoke will land and it could start a wildfire.Bob Harris can be reached at: email@example.com