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4 ways to prevent wildfires while camping

  • Oct 2, 2014

Wildfires are among some of the most destructive disasters from which a region can suffer. Large fires can affect thousands of miles worth of land, destroying ecosystems for animals, humans and plant life alike. Some areas are more prone to wildfires than others, but for the most part, these events are wholly preventable.

California is currently experiencing one of the most destructive wildfires its seen in years, with Outside Magazine reporting that nearly 18,000 acres of land have been affected - and the fire is only 5 percent contained. As more land is impacted by the blaze, agencies have placed a greater emphasis on fire safety to ensure other areas do not suffer the same fate in the future.

Next time you go camping, keep the following tips in mind to decrease your chances of contributing to a wildfire.

1. Pick your spot with care
As you're searching for the best spot to set up your pit, be sure to pick one that is far from low-hanging limbs, clusters of dry grass and groups of shrubs. Your fire pit should be far from flammable substances, including papers, wrappers or trash that could quickly ignite if blown into the fire. Smokey Bear recommended finding an area that already has a prebuilt fire ring, as these structures have likely housed similar fires without incidents in the past. If you're using a fire pit that's already at the site, it's still important to case the area for flammable objects.

Smokey Bear reported that pits should be built in areas that do not experience large wind gusts, preferable one that is at least 15 feet away from your tent and gear. Be sure to use your watch compass when guiding yourself to and from the camp site, as this may decrease your chances of getting lost. 

2. Build a safe and sturdy site
The integrity of your pit may impact its likelihood of leading to a forest fire. To reduce your fire's chances for spreading to the surrounding area, it's best practice to dig a hole that is at least 1 foot deep. Line the edges of your pit with large rocks, as these may further impede your flames from spreading. The Washington Trails Association reported that builders should not use wood that is bigger than the fire ring, as these may cause fire to spread outside its limits.

3. Never abandon your campfire
Barring a life-or-death emergency, you should never leave your campfire while it's still burning. Even if the wind is stale and you've built the world's finest fire pit, there are a variety of environmental factors that may cause your flames to spread. Critters, stray debris and unexpected winds can all turn a small fire into a statewide emergency. 

4. Smother the flames entirely
After your fire has outlived its usefulness, it's time to smother the flames in their entirety. While pouring water over the area is essential for dousing the flames, adventurers must be 100 percent positive the fire is dead before walking away. National Geographic explained that a fire is not completely out until its ashes are cold. Fires left with something as small as a spark can spread very fast - some flames can begin to build underground then spread to roots and leaves on the surface. The source recommended pouring water on the fire, stirring around the ashes to expose any light spots, then pouring more water over the pit. Dismantle the area when you're done, placing large rocks back in their original places and returning dirt to the hole. 

Seeing the destruction the wildfires have caused in California it's important to follow the rules listed above. The PRW3000-2 is the perfect tool to have on you when you are navigating to and from the campsite. With a built in compass and altimeter it will make it hard to get lost. It's always good to be prepared for the worst case scenario. Get yours today!