Memorial Day is just around the corner, and summertime is fast approaching here in the high country. For many, the summer season in Colorado is camping season. Summertime in Colorado is also wildfire season. Did you know as many as 90% of wildfires are caused by human activity? That means campfires are a leading cause of wildfires, so we at RMCat thought it’d be a good time for a blog post about campfire safety.
First of all, pick a safe place to have a fire. This is just as important for bonfires in your backyard as it is for campfires in the wilderness. Make sure you’re familiar with regulations in your area, and check to see if any fire restrictions are in effect. Try to use existing fire rings or pits, if possible.
A campfire should be at least 15 feet from tents, shrubs, or anything else that might potentially catch fire. Remove leaves, grass, twigs, and other flammable materials within a 10-foot diameter from the fire. A campfire should also be in a location protected from wind gusts. Dig a fire pit about a foot deep, and line the pit with a ring of rocks, which can help to keep the fire contained.
When you finally start the fire, start it small. Don’t use gasoline or other accelerants to start the fire, as these are unpredictable and can potentially combust. Keep the fire as small as possible while camping. Supervise children and pets around the fire, and NEVER leave a fire unattended.
Be sure to completely extinguish your fire before going to bed or leaving your campsite. Pour lots of water on the fire, drowning all the embers. Keep pouring water and stirring the embers with a shovel or stick until the fire is completely cool. If no water is available, pour dirt or sand over the fire, stirring it in with the embers until cool. Remember – if a fire is still too hot to touch, then it’s still too hot to leave!
One last personal tip from RMCat: if you plan to have a campfire, don’t forget the s’mores!
And please don’t forget these fire safety tips if you plan to enjoy a campfire this summer. It’s just like Smokey Bear said: only you can prevent forest fires!
Happy camping, everyone!
To contact Rocky Mountain Catastrophe, call 970-722-7744 or email [email protected].
Smokey photo credit: Smokey Bear Facebook