With the calendar turning to June and what is hopefully the start of many warm weekends upon us, people head to the parks to go camping. Whether you're an avid backpacker, fond of sleeping on an air mattress at a full-facility campground, or just like to rough it in the backyard the Pacific Northwest is the place to go camping. Of course, part of the charm is that you rough it - meaning no heat and no electricity. Which brings me to campfires - they are a staple of the great outdoors, but they are also dangerous if not handled properly. Here are a few of my favorite campfire safety tips (some from experience, others from www.smokeybear.com. Because only you can prevent wildfires).
Step One: Selecting Your Spot
- If there's a fire pit available at your campsite...use it! Chances are it's in a safe and smart location, plus it already is there for you so there's no set-up required.
- If you need to dig your own fire pit, look around you. Make sure that your proposed spot is at least 15 feet away from tents, shrubs, trees, or low branches.
Step Two: Building the Fire
- Gather three types of wood: tinder, kindling and fuel.
- Loosely place the tinder in the fire pit
- Add kindling and fuel in the appropriate arrangement
-Ignite the tinder with a match, then when the match is cool add it to the fire
- Keep adding kindling and firewood as needed to keep the fire going.
Step Three: Putting the Fire Out
- Allow the wood to burn completely to ash, if possible
- Cover all of the embers with water - not just the ones that look like they're still burning
- If you don't have water use dirt or sand. Just be sure not to bury the fire - if you bury the fire and it ignites the roots a much larger fire could start
- Stir the ashes and embers with a shovel and make sure the sticks and logs are scraped of embers
- Everything in the fire pit should be cool to the touch. If it's too hot to touch, it's too hot to leave!
If you're going camping be sure you have supplies to ignite and extinguish a fire, use common sense, and have fun!