Many people enjoy warming themselves by a bonfire, campfire, or another type of outside fire during the winter months.
It can be relaxing … but it can also be dangerous if the fire spreads. For instance:
Currently, the United States spends about $3 billion year to put out fires in its parks and forests.
The National Park Service estimates that people are responsible for almost 85% of wild land fires. According to experts, the main causes of these wildfires were fires left unattended, the burning of debris, irresponsibly thrown cigarettes, and purposeful acts of arson.
The Washington Post reports that some fire officials are restricting or banning outside fires like campfires due to the mega-drought, larger and longer wildfires, and record-breaking heat waves. According to the U.S. Forest Service, over the past ten years, these factors were responsible for 30% of wildfires.
There were 61,289 wildfires annually on average from 2012 to 2021, affecting 7.4 million acres on average. In 2021, 58,968 wildfires consumed 7.1 million acres.
As of September 1, 2022, there had been nearly 48,500 wildfires that had burned 6.2 million acres.
That’s why fire safety is so important. It’s easy for an outside fire to get out of hand and end up caching your house or surrounding land on fire.
How to Stop a Bonfire from Spreading into a Wildfire
Select the Proper Location
Consider the position of neighboring trees and brush while deciding where to build your fire. Your fire should ideally be at least 10 feet away from combustible vegetation and bushes. A small wildfire may easily be started by a stray ember that made its way to a nearby tree.
Utilize a Fire Ring
A quick and simple approach to control your campfire is to create a fire ring around it. A fire ring is simply a circle of medium-sized rocks arranged around the campfire’s perimeter in the most basic sense. It serves only to contain the fire and keep it from spreading. Wherever you are camping, there might already be existing fire rings that other campers have left behind that you can usually use to make your own campfire.
Make a Hole
To properly manage your fire, you should still dig a tiny pit in the middle of the fire ring, even if you utilize one. It doesn’t need to be deep; a few inches will generally be sufficient to contain the fire.
Think About the Wind
You may have trouble managing your fire if the wind is blowing in either a dangerous or unfavorable direction. Your campfire or bonfire could get out of hand if you build it downwind and there is brush a short distance further downwind. For this reason, the majority of outdoor authorities advise constructing campfires next to a natural windbreak, such as a ridge or sizable rock.
Have Water Available
Keep some water close to your campfire as a safety precaution. Hopefully it won’t happen, but if it does, you can put out a campfire by sprinkling water on the flames. Dousing the flames and ash in water before leaving is a good idea even if your campfire doesn’t spread. By doing this, you can rest easy knowing that it has been completely put out.
More Tips to Prevent a Fire from Spreading
Examine the weather. Never start a fire outside during a windy night.
Verify if it is permissible to start a bonfire where you intend to do so. Before starting a fire, familiarize yourself with the rules and legislation in your state.
Keep garden hoses or buckets of water handy in case the fire starts to spread. In an emergency, it’s crucial to be ready.
Keep an eye on the flames and any kids who may be nearby. This will aid in defending those close to you.
Never burn aerosols, cans, or materials containing paint or foam. These kinds of compounds contain highly combustible components that can start fires or release hazardous gases. These products’ containers could blow up and injure people.
Make sure the wood you’re burning is toxic-free, dry, and well-seasoned. This means that no furniture, anything coated or treated, or railroad ties should be burned.
To keep the flames manageable, the pile shouldn’t be larger than 5′ x 5′.
After the bonfire is over, use metal shovels and rakes to flip the burned materials over and water the area.
When lighting a fire, sitting near it, or putting it out, wear non-flammable clothing. Flip-flops and rubber sneakers should not be worn because they could catch fire from leaping sparks.
Keep an eye on your alcohol intake. Be careful with how much alcohol you and your guests consume when you’re sitting around the bonfire. Consuming too much alcohol can cause clumsiness and thoughtless actions, such as approaching a fire too closely or throwing the incorrect things in.
What to Do if a Fire Becomes Unmanageable
There are a few things you may do if you find yourself in this scenario. First, try to put out the fire as quickly as you can by dousing it with water and stomping out any embers that accumulate.
Try to clear any flammable materials from the fire’s path if it appears like the fire is spreading swiftly in one direction and you are unable to completely put it out.
This can provide you with a better angle to attack the fire once more when it gets to that point. But if things get to this point, assign someone to call the emergency services.
Work in two main teams, if you can, with one team taking children and people to safety and the other team attempting to put out the fire.
When the duty of transferring items to safety is finished, the second group can help the first group in putting out the fire.
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