Summertime fire safety

I spent the evening teaching fire safety to young girls in my neighborhood who are preparing for a camp out in a few weeks. Just as integral to camping as sleeping in tents, knowing how to make a fire is key. Not only will the girls survive on the fire to cook their food, it will provide a perfect vehicle for s’mores.

But just as important as it is to learn how to create a fire, it is imperative to know about fire safety. The last thing the parents of the campers want to do is call their health insurance company to cover burn costs after a rush to the emergency room.

Here are some tips to dealing with fire safely.

  • Build a fire correctly. There is more than one way to correctly build a fire. How you build the fire (arranging the wood, bark and other fire starting materials) all have different purposes but how you treat the fires should be the same. Each fire starts with a way to ignite the fire, whether it be a lighter or the good old fashioned rubbing sticks together. You will need tinder such as lint, dried leaves to be the starter. After you gather some kindling (small twigs and pieces of wood) to put under the logs or bigger pieces of wood. After lighting the tinder, the kindle and bigger pieces of wood will light on fire, fueling the actual fire. Remember, the more wood you put on, the longer it will burn.
  • Know how to put out a fire. Fire loves oxygen. That is how it survives. The quickest way to put out a fire to is smother it. Ideally, you should let the fire burn out until it is just ashes. Water is the antithesis of fire. And plenty of it should be used to put out your fire. Douse the fire in way until it stops hissing (you’ll know what I mean when you do it). Stir around the embers to make sure each one gets put out. If you do not have water, dirt is your next best option.
  • Treat your fire like a child. Never leave it unattended. Even after you think you put the fire out, make sure it is cool. Also, never let it get too big. Only add more fuel when you need it. Keep them away from the fire to avoid any burns or temptations to touch the fire.
  • Only put approved items in a fire. Trash that is paper based is appropriate for a fire, but glass and aluminum cans do not burn and will do more than just bulk up your fire. Glass can burst and aluminum can actually release poisonous gas. Do yourself a favor and save those for the garbage can at home.
  • What if your fire has a hard time starting? Lighter fluid can help accelerate a fire, but should only be used before any flame is on the fire. If you use an acceleration aid, keep distance away from the flame.

A campfire is the perfect way to enjoy camping, just be safe so the rest of us can enjoy it.