More Camping Safety Tips: Campfires and Wildfire
By Nicole Munoz
Respecting nature should be a top priority anytime you relax or play in the great outdoors. Camping safety and protecting yourself from common outdoor hazards should be just as important. Each year, thousands of accidents occur in the outdoors as a result of camper and backpacker carelessness. Protect yourself with these camping safety tips.
Campfire negligence is a leading cause of forest fires and also causes many camping injuries and deaths. Only build your campfires in designated areas. Most campgrounds provide fire rings or pits for campfires or you can use a Coleman fireplace to safely contain your campfire. Keep the area surrounding your campfire free of trash and other debris that could ignite and set your tent, chairs, and other gear a safe distance from the flame.
Many campgrounds and state parks provide wood for campfires for a small price, but supplies are often low during peak seasons. Bring your own dry firewood to avoid taking wood from the natural area. If you do gather firewood at your campsite, only take pieces already on the ground. Never cut trees or branches within the campground or park and find your wood away from your campsite.
Begin your fire with a small stack of twigs. Aromatic cedar and pine and other soft woods burn quickly and make excellent fire starters. Use a match to light the dry sticks and add larger pieces of dry hardwood as the campfire strengthens. Burn any garbage or waste that will burn to reduce the amount of waste you carry out and to limit your use of firewood. Before leaving your campsite, completely extinguish your campfire using water. Stir the ashes and pour more water on the embers. Make sure the ashes are cool to the touch before leaving the campsite and remove any debris that didn’t burn.
Always keep water close by whenever you have a campfire. Breezes and wind can cause embers to spread quickly. Keep the campfire at a reasonable level and never leave it unattended. Put your campfire out before going to sleep each evening.
The wild animals you may encounter in the great outdoors can be beautiful and amazing to watch, but can also be quite harmful and even deadly if you’re not careful. Anytime you see a wild animal, observe the animal from a safe distance. Never try to feed a wild animal and avoid sudden movements or closing in on the animal. Report any strange wildlife behavior to the park ranger to warn of possible rabies.
To reduce the risk of bears or other animals in your campsite, never leave food and drinks out in the open. Cover all your food and keep the containers inside your car or suspended from a tree out of animal reach. Garbage should be burned, immediately disposed of, or suspended in the air as well. To prevent bears, hang your bags at least 12 feet high and 4 feet away from the trunk of the tree. Avoid storing food inside your tent and take out any snacks before bedtime.
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