Outdoor Fire Safety

Time spent outdoors is a wonderful way to be active, take in nature, or simply relax. Unfortunately, many of the activities associated with outdoor enjoyment also have the potential to turn deadly. One of the ways that this can happen is through fire. Fires can occur whether a person is camping away from home or spending time in the comfort of their own backyard. The key to remaining safe and avoiding damage is to avoid accidental fires from occurring and knowing how to stop them when they do.

Grilling/Outdoor Kitchen

Outdoor cooking is probably one of the most common activities associated with summer. Most often this is done using a barbecue pit or a grill that requires either propane or charcoal. Cooking outdoors can prove a fire hazard if a person does not use caution or does not fully understand the proper use of his or her grill. To prevent fires, the grill should first and foremost be used outdoors, in a location that is away from any type of overhang or material that could catch on fire. It should also be set where children will not be allowed to play, or in any area of high activity. A three-foot rule should be in place where everyone other than the chef remains three feet away from the grill.

When using charcoal grills, the proper starter fluid should be used. In addition, it should never be used by children. The person grilling should read the instructions carefully and only use starter fluid on coals that call for it and have not already been ignited. When using a propane grill, it should be checked for leaks prior to use. The person in charge of the grill should be aware of any gas smell before and during grilling. If there is the smell of gas while cooking the fire department should be notified, and the grill should not be moved. It is also important to store propane cylinders properly. They should never be stored indoors, neither in the home or the garage.

Campfire

When camping it is only natural to build a campfire for warmth, entertainment and even for cooking. For safety, campers will want to build it in a location that is a minimum of 15 feet from trees, shrubs, tents, or any object that could catch on fire. There should be nothing that hangs over the fire, and it should not be a location that is dry. Ideally, the campfire should be built in a location where there is currently an existing fire pit or ring, if at a campground. Before putting out the fire, the wood should be completely burned down to ash. Water should be poured over the ash and any embers until the hissing abates. Using a shovel, stir the remains of the campfire to ensure that all items are wet and cold when touched. If water is not available, dirt may be stirred into the ash and embers; however, it should not bury the remains of the fire. Stir in the dirt until it is cold enough to touch.

Firepit/Backyard Fire

Backyard fires are an increasingly popular way to relax and spend time with loved ones. This may be done with an outdoor fireplace or a fire pit. Safety precautions, such as keeping children, pets and flammable materials away, must be taken. The fire should never be started using gasoline, diesel fuel, alcohol, kerosene, or a charcoal lighter. In addition, only seasoned hardwood should be burned. Burning leaves, cardboard, paper, or trash should be avoided. Softer woods, such as pine, should also be avoided as they have a tendency to spark. The direction of the wind should also be checked prior to using a fire pit. Sand or water should be kept nearby in the event that the fire flares up, and the fire needs to be put out immediately. There should also be a fire extinguisher present in the event that flames leap out onto a flammable surface. The extinguisher should be at least Class A rated. To put out the fire, the ashes should be spread out and allowed to cool. Water should then be poured gradually over the ashes.

RV

When traveling in a recreational vehicle, it is important to understand what may potentially cause a fire, and to take steps to prevent a fire from occurring. Seventy percent of RV fires are due to electrical malfunctions; therefore, it is crucial that the vehicle is checked for damage. Prior to traveling, the transmission, wires, hoses, batteries, and engine compartment should be inspected. Tires and brakes also may be a source of fire and should be inspected. When using the stove for cooking, it should never be left unattended, and flammable items should be clear from the surrounding area. If anyone traveling in an RV smokes, they should do it outside of the vehicle only. For the safety of travelers both a carbon monoxide detector and smoke alarms should be installed. In addition, an ABC rated, five-pound fire extinguisher should be kept near the exit of the vehicle.

  • National Fire Protection Association - Gas Grilling Safety: This page lists fire safety tips for both propane and charcoal grills. Tips are listed in bullet points beneath each type of grill. visitors to this page may also view the gas grilling safety slide-show.

  • Outdoor Grilling Safety: This is an outdoor grilling safety article that gives tips on how to avoid fire and accidental burns. The article presents the reader with two separate sections on grilling and fire safety.

  • Outdoor Cooking Fire Safety: Readers will find information about safely using charcoal and propane barbecue grills. Information on the page also includes fire pit safety information. Statistics on the number of grill related fires is also discussed.

  • Summer Fire Safety - Safety Tips for Grilling and Campfires: This is the U.S. Fire Administration page on grilling and campfire safety. The campfire section is in two parts, educating readers how to locate a campfire spot, and how to properly extinguish a campfire. In addition, the website also includes information on fire pit safety. Residential grill facts and first aid for minor burns are also included on the page.

  • Using Barbecue Grills Safely: A page divided into two sections of grill safety. The first section is a long list of tips for gas grills. The second section includes tips for charcoal grills.

  • Outdoor Fire Pits and Safety: This is a HGTV article on outdoor fire pits. The first half of the article discusses pits in general and their use. Halfway through the article in the "Fire Safety" section, the reader is given information on where to place a fire pit, how to properly start a fire in the pit, and how to extinguish it.

  • Campfire Safety - How to Put Out a Campfire: Smokey Bear tips on maintaining and extinguishing campfires. The article is broken into two sections of information. A third section on the page includes points to remember.

  • Camp Fire Safety: Clicking on this link will take the reader to a PDF flyer on campfire safety. The page includes four sections. In addition to preparing and putting out the fire, tips on keeping children safe, and advice on what to do prior to leaving home.

  • EEK! Smokey Bear's Seven Campfire Safety Tips: Seven tips on campfire safety. Tips include advice such as where to placement, what to keep nearby, where to keep extra wood, etc.

  • NDDES Homeland Security State Radio: Summer Fire Safety: A page of fire safety tips for activities that are most often associated with summer. These tips include barbecue safety and campfire safety.

  • Clover Safe: Campfire Safety PDF: A PDF page that lists campfire safety. The document is presented by the University of California.

  • Summer Recreational Activities Put Families at High Risk for Burns: This page offers readers advice on how to prevent fires when participating in summer recreational activities. Tips cover safety with grills, campfires and fireworks.

  • Grilling and Fire Pit Safety: These safety tips appear on the Ready WV! website and includes information provided by the United States Fire Administration (USFA). Grill safety tips to remember, charcoal and propane grill, and fire pit tips make up the page.

  • Campfire and Outdoor Burning Tips: This is a page full of outdoor burning tips. When viewing this site the reader will learn what is needed to safely create and manage a campfire.

  • This Old House: Fire Pit Safety: Fire pit safety is reviewed in this article by This Old House magazine. This is a fairly detailed article on what is needed.

  • RV Fire Safety: Safety information for people living in or traveling in recreational vehicles. Readers will learn what to do if they smell gas, or in the event of a fire. Necessary equipment is also listed.

  • RV Fire Safety 101: Valuable recreational Fire Safety that can help travelers prepare before they leave on a trip to avoid potential fires. The importance of proper maintenance to prevent fires is discussed as well as what to do if there is a fire.

  • Camping Safety: Recreational Vehicles PDF: This is a PDF from Cal Fire. It reviews campfire, recreational vehicle, and tent safety. It also discusses flammable liquid safety.

  • Mobile Home and RV Safety: People with RVs will appreciate this page for the information on how to prevent fires from occurring in their vehicles. Tips are listed in bulleted format. This page is presented by the Ventura County Fire Department.

  • RV Fire Safety: A Critical Survival Issue PDF: This page is a PDF that includes two sections. The first of the two sections is basic safety rules to prevent or prepare for a fire in an RV. The second section is basic rules for responding to a RV fire.


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