Did you know that forest fires, also called wild fires, are usually a direct result of human negligence? Research suggests that 90% of forest fires are caused by people. The other 10% is a combination of natural causes such as lava or lightning. It’s imperative to decrease those statistics. Preventing forest fires is possible. Learning the right way to extinguish campfires and burn debris can help to prevent these wildfires. Here are some common causes of fires, due to human error, and the correct way to help prevent these fires from starting in the first place.
It’s not uncommon for people to have campfires, especially in the summertime. Sitting around a fire is a hobby for many. However, these campfires, if not properly managed, can lead to forest fires. Embers from the fire can travel great distances. That’s why you should find a large open area to have your fire. Never place a campfire near trees or a wooded area. In addition, if you have a stash of kindling or logs, be sure they are far enough away from the campfire so they won’t be at risk of catching fire from a travelling ember. In addition to properly managing the campfire you should also be sure you are appropriately extinguishing the fire as well. Never leave a campfire unattended. Once you are done with the fire you must completely saturate it with water. Use a shovel or a stick to toss and mix the hot coals and put more water on them. Depending on the time of ear or the weather your local authorities may issue a burn ban. Burns bans may be issued if you are in a drought. Essentially, you are not legally allowed to have any open burns due to the increased risk of wildfires.
Many people shoot off fireworks around the holidays. Even though this may be a fun pastime is can lead to very serious consequences. The sparks from these fireworks can start a forest fire. If you insist on shooting off fireworks there are a few things to keep in mind to help prevent a wildfire. First, be sure that you are in an open area. Do not shoot off fireworks in a wooded area or near any trees or plant life. In addition, it’s important to be mindful of what the weather has been like recently. If you have not experienced rain in several weeks then you shouldn’t be using fireworks at all. The more dry or arid a region is the more likely a forest fire will occur.
Arson is the intentional setting of a fire. To help prevent this you can keep your eyes open, and if you see something – say something. Arson is illegal and can lead to dangerous and deadly scenarios. If you have witnessed a fire being started call local law enforcement right away.
It’s fairly common for people to use fire to burn their rubble or debris. Lawn clippings, garbage, and other debris can be minimized by setting fire to it. However, this can become dangerous and can actually lead to forest fires. Again, the hot embers from the debris fire can travel and can set something else on fire as well. In addition, sometimes debris fires are not properly controlled. One way to be sure that it doesn’t get out of control is to always have ample water available in case of an emergency. If you do see sparks or embers set something else in flames use your water source to completely extinguish the fire. You should always be watching over your debris. Do not ever leave a fire unattended. Similarly to shooting off fireworks, be mindful of the current weather. Have you experienced a drought recently? Choose a time to burn your debris when you have recently had rain and you are not at as great a risk to start a forest fire. If you do choose to burn your debris you should be sure that the fire is completely extinguished before leaving it. Toss the embers around to be sure there is nothing burning underneath. Completely saturate the leftover area in water.
It is estimated that over 34 million Americans smoke cigarettes. These cigarettes, unfortunately, do not always end up where they should. It’s not only illegal, but dangerous, to throw a cigarette butt out of a moving vehicle. This kind of “disposal” of a cigarette can lead to a forest fire. Even though there is not an active flame the embers from the butt can set kindling or dry grass on fire. In extremely dry areas it is even more dangerous to throw a butt on the ground. To properly dispose of a cigarette you should completely extinguish it. Rubbing it into pavement, or another type of nonflammable material, is one way you can be sure it won’t start a forest fire. The best way, however, is to immerse it in water. Tossing it into a water bottle or cup will completely extinguish the burning embers.
We need to be more diligent about our actions in order to help prevent these fires. If you are unsure whether you are appropriately burning or having a campfire check with local law enforcement for clarity. With millions of acres of forest being burned each and every year due to forest fires it is our job to educate ourselves of how to decrease these numbers.