Ten Campfire Safety Tips to Prevent Personal Injury and Fire Damage
Blog Summary: SERVPRO of Palo Alto shares campfire safety tips to help Palo Alto residents enjoy campfires safely.
The highly trained and experienced professionals at SERVPRO of Palo Alto are prepared to respond to any property damage incident, including fire damage, smoke damage, or water damage disaster caused by Northern California wildfires.
In 2020, there were more than 57,000 wildfires in the US, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. These wildfires consumed more than 10.3 million acres, and ninety percent of the fires were caused by humans. The remaining ten percent were largely from lightning strikes. In California, approximately 10,500 buildings were destroyed by wildfires at a cost of over $12 billion. Preventing wildfires can save lives, homes, and businesses. A good place to start is with campfire safety.
How to Enjoy a Campfire Safely and Avoid Fire Damage
These ten tips can help campers and park visitors enjoy activities around the campfire without putting themselves or the surrounding forest in jeopardy.
- Be familiar with and abide by local burning regulations.
According to the National Park Service, each park has its own set of rules customized for the unique aspects of the individual park. In general, the guidelines regulate the location and conditions in which a campfire is permissible. Usually, these regulations are clearly posted in a central location in the park, often at the visitor center. If the information is not publicly posted, then ask a park employee or park ranger where the information is available. If a printed copy is available, keep it on hand at all times when in the park. Campfire regulations most likely can be found on the park website, but reception may not be available throughout the park. The best policy is to download the information before entering the park.
How serious is a campfire code violation? What are the consequences for failing to follow the rules and causing a forest fire? Simple violations may be met with a pleasant and professional reminder from a patient park ranger. However, if the careless camper causes a forest fire by failing to follow the safety guidelines, he or she may have to pay stiff fines, pay damages resulting from the fire, and possibly serve jail time. Property damage and the expense of extinguishing even a small forest fire can be financially devastating.
Knowing and closely abiding by the guidelines for campfire safety will go a long way in preventing needless wildfires that harm the forest, destroy property, and sometimes take the lives of both humans and wildlife.
- Make sure the weather is safe to enjoy a campfire.
Anything more than a gentle breeze could pose a potential wildfire threat. If rain has been sparse, a spark or ember from a small campfire could burn down a large forest. Wind and arid conditions might mean special rules or restrictions are in effect. Reach out to park officials to learn if any special restrictions apply during the time the camper plans to visit the park. Whether intentional or unintentional, violation of a burn ban or other weather-related rules is frowned upon by park officials.
- Make sure that some form of fire extinguisher, especially water, is readily available in case of an emergency.
Pack extra buckets or a water bladder dedicated to extinguishing the campfire. Haul the water to the campsite before igniting the fire. The water will prove helpful if clothes or gear catch on fire from burning embers or sparks. Play it very safe and pack an approved fire extinguisher that will have no adverse effect on the environment if it is discharged.
- Only burn wood.
Avoid using the campfire as a garbage disposal for trash such as plastic bags, plastic water bottles, plastic cups and eating utensils, and paper with printing on it. When burned, these items give off noxious gases that can be harmful to anyone downwind who has to breathe the toxic chemicals in the smoke. Disposable diapers, clothing, broken flip-flops, and shoes should be discarded in the assigned trash bin and should not be burned.
- Do not use any fire accelerants other than lighter fluid.
Lighter fluid is designed to start a fire in a controlled and safe manner. Avoid spraying or pouring lighter fluid directly on a flame since the fire could flare-up. Gasoline can cause a flash explosion that ignites the surrounding vegetation, clothing, and camp gear. An unintentional spill of flammable liquids can also pollute nearby streams.
- Once the fire is started, always remain at a safe distance from the blaze.
Clothing, especially vinyl jackets, can catch fire very easily. Once these highly flammable items are ignited, the flames spread quickly and can cause great bodily harm. Wear all-natural fiber clothing when around a campfire. Make adjustments to the fire with a long poker. Wear protective leather gloves if necessary.
- Keep an eye on children and pets.
Small children can easily stumble and fall into an open flame of a campfire. While roasting marshmallows, children can become overbalanced and tumble into the blaze. Pets can become agitated if they are not accustomed to being around the heat, flames, and smells of fire.
- Never leave the fire unattended.
Before going to bed, completely extinguish the flames and spread out the coals. Cover the embers with water and stir until the fire is totally extinguished. If water is not available, use sand or dirt that is free of debris. Remove all combustible material from around the fire pit for added safety.
- Call 911 if the fire is not able to be controlled.
If the flames spread beyond the firepit, call 911 immediately. If reception is not available, seek assistance from area campers. In a worst-case scenario, travel to the nearest visitor center or ranger station for assistance.
- Pre-qualify a fire damage restoration company to provide services should the campfire cause fire damage.
Homes and businesses located in areas vulnerable to wildfires are advised to pre-qualify a fire damage restoration company should the worst happen. By choosing a fire damage restoration company beforehand, homeowners are making sure that only one call is needed in an emergency, and they are being proactive in protecting their home, securing their belongings, and escaping the flames.
The experienced team at SERVPRO of Palo Alto is ready to serve the needs of homeowners and businesses affected by the Northern California wildfires. SERVPRO of Palo Alto, being locally owned and operated, can respond quickly with immediate action, which can minimize damage and prevent advanced secondary damage. The reduction in restoration costs can be significant. The highly trained crews possess the specialized equipment and resources to handle fire, smoke, and water damage caused by the recent Northern California wildfires. The SERVPRO teams are prepared with strategically positioned equipment when a fire emergency arises in the area, including Menlo Park, Stanford, and Redwood City. A fire damage incident is devastating for a family. The traumatic event is disruptive and stressful. The caring experts at SERVPRO of Palo Alto guide their clients through the crisis with the deepest empathy and utmost respect.
For more information about Palo Alto, CA, fire damage restoration, contact SERVPRO of Palo Alto by phone at (650) 800-3448 or email office@SERVPROpaloalto.com.