Campfires can bring family, friends together; but be safe!
Kids are back in school and Autumn is just a few weeks away after Labor Day weekend. It'll be the perfect time to have a campfire with family or friends. While enjoying spending time in the outdoors with your crew, it’s important to remember campfire safety, especially as dry foliage can be a serious fire hazard.
When leaves catch on fire, irritants are released into the air, which can cause respiratory problems. Additionally, campfires that aren’t properly prepared or maintained can cause huge issues such as burns or out-of-control fires, possibly developing into a forest fires.
Follow these important steps to keep everyone safe before and after the campfire, so that everyone can have a great time:
- Selecting your campfire spot: Look for signs and follow rules! If the area has rules prohibiting campfires, find another area, and do not build your campfire in an area with dry and/or hazardous conditions. Watch out for tree branches, and be sure to make your fire at least 15 feet from any shrubs, bushes, trees and tents. Inspect the area, ensuring no flammable items are nearby. Do not build a fire if winds are strong.
- Building your pit: If there’s no pit, you can dig your own. This website has great tips, along with pictures, on how to do so: https://smokeybear.com/en/prevention-how-tos/campfire-safety/how-to-prepare-your-campfire-pit
- Building your campfire: For everyone’s safety, it’s always important to gather a bucket of water along with a shovel before starting up the fire. When gathering wood, do not cut a tree or an entire branch. Instead, gather small twigs, and sticks or pieces of wood you find on the ground (or which you purchase). Large pieces of wood should always be stacked upwind, away from the fire. Make sure you don’t collect sticks from an animal’s dwelling space. For specific details on how to position and start your campfire, visit https://smokeybear.com/en/prevention-how-tos/campfire-safety/how-to-build-your-campfire. If you’re using matches to start the fire, make sure it’s cold before discarding (into your trash bag, of course). Once you start a fire, it must be monitored at all times. Adult supervision is required at all times. Children and pets must be closely and carefully watched.
- Maintaining a fire: Once you are pleased with your campfire, add larger pieces of wood to keep it going steadily, but keep your fire to a manageable size. Do not let it get out of hand. Also, do not burn plastics, cans, or glass, as doing so can result in explosions, shattering, or the release of dangerous fumes.
- Extinguishing your fire: If possible, allow firewood to burn to ash. Then, pour water on the fire. All embers must be completely soaked and dead (no red embers). Until the hissing sound stops, keep pouring water on the area. Remember, if it’s too hot to touch, it’s not appropriate to leave. Add more water, dirt, and/or sand until all material is cool.
We hope these campfire tips were helpful and will keep you and your family & friends safe! Enjoy Autumn 2022, from your friends at SERVPRO of Rockville-Olney and SERVPRO of Silver Spring North.