School is out and summer is upon us. Living in the Lone Star State has numerous advantages when it comes to outdoor activities and summer hotspots. This time of year people flock to State parks and campsites to enjoy Mother Nature and at the end of the day huddle around with family & friends in hopes that someone remembered to bring s’mores.
With that being said, here are some tips on campfire safety to make sure your outing is an enjoyable and memorable one.
Before you go to your desired location – call the local forestry or fire district to learn if there are any current campfire restrictions or burn bans.
Select the right spot – Maintained campgrounds with established fire pits provide the safest venue for campfires. If campfires are allowed outside campgrounds, avoid areas near your tent, structures, vehicles, shrubs and trees, and be aware of low-hanging branches overhead. Clear the site down to mineral soil, at least five feet on all sides, and circle your campfire site with rocks. Store your unused firewood a good distance from the fire.
Keep your campfire small – A campfire is less likely to escape control if it is kept small. A large fire may cast hot embers long distances. Add firewood in small amounts as existing material is consumed.
Attend your campfire at all times – A campfire left unattended for only a few minutes can grow into a costly, damaging wildfire. Stay with your campfire from start to finish until dead out, to ensure any escaped sparks or embers can be extinguished quickly.
Rhyme – Teach children at the campsite about the “stop, drop, and roll” procedure, in case an accident occurs or their clothing catches on fire.
NEVER use gasoline or other accelerants (flammable or combustible liquids) to start or increase your campfire. Once the fire is ignited, wait until the match is cold and then discard it in the fire.
Burn ONLY wood – State regulations prohibit the open burning of any material that creates dense, toxic smoke or noxious odors.
Always have water and fire tools on site – Have a shovel and a bucket of water nearby to extinguish any escaped embers. When you are ready to leave, drown all embers with water, stir the coals, and drown again. Repeat until the fire is DEAD out.
Make sure it’s out – Completely extinguish your campfire before leaving. If it is too hot to touch, it is too hot to leave. A campfire that appears to be extinguished can harbor heat for weeks. Then, a warm day with a little wind can rekindle the “sleeper fire” into flames.
I hope your summer is a fun and memorable one. Remember what Smokey says,
Only you can prevent wildfires.
For more information about using fire safely, click here.