Summer Fire Safety: How to Have a Controlled Camp Fire
Whether it is at a festival or other tourist event, camping can be a cheap way to enjoy a relaxing holiday in the summer time. Normally most camping sites don't allow camp fires due to health and safety, however if you can show you are prepared and will have a controlled camp fire, many camping site operators when asked may allow you to have a one in a fire pit.
If a camp site already has a pit make sure you clear out all of the debris before lighting your own one, left over debris can be dangerous as plastics or other toxic materials could be in the debris. A safe pit should be at least 3-4 meters of bare ground surrounded with stones. Having such a large bare area massively reduces the risk of grass fires and makes the whole process much more controlled.
Before even lighting or collecting wood, you must make sure you are correctly prepared with a fire proof bar or stick; A bucket of water or extinguisher and a clear plan of action is needed in case it becomes out of control.
Things you need to think about before lighting are, where a phone is in case you require the fire department, are all exits away from the fire clear, is there any object located around the pit at risk of being ignited. If you ever have any doubt about the proximity of surrounding objects check beforehand. It is not uncommon for trees or plastic structures around fires to become damaged and in some cases ignite during large camp fires.
Only when you are 100% sure that you have negated all potential risks can you light the kindling. After it is ignited you must always keep watch for pieces that fallout. These should either be pushed back into the middle of the pit, with a fire proof bar or doused in water if it is too close to the to get near. A high number of grass and forest fires around the world are caused by ignited wood falling onto dry grass or leaves.
After you are finished with the pit, you should make sure all embers are away from the pit edge. This stops any risk of the embers igniting the grass or leaves surrounding the fire pit. If you have a bucket of water dousing the fire is a good idea. You should supervise until it is cool, normally this can take 1-2 hours to cool down, during this time it is a good idea to check the fire every 5-10 minutes to make sure it does not reignite.
If you treat camp fires with the respect they deserve they are a really nice way to spend a cool summer's night, above all make sure you are prepared and follow all instructions made by the camp site operators.
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