Summer is the driest time of the year, making it easy for fire to catch and burn. On average, more than 100,000 wildfires occur each year, according to National Geographic. These fires can burn up to five million acres of land and move at a speed of 14 miles per hour, destroying everything in their path, including residential areas.
Though some of these fires are the result of natural disasters, most (four out of every five wildfires) are caused by careless human interaction with nature. Unsafe use of fireworks, unattended fires, and even discarded cigarette butts can lead to this destruction, which can not only kill people, but also result in a major fine or even jail time. This summer, don’t be the cause of one of these disastrous occurrences. Use these fire safety tips the next time you do anything that involves an open flame.
1. Extinguish the Fire
Before you leave your campground or go to bed at night, extinguish the fire fully. Many people believe that it’s okay to leave just the coals burning, but if a wind picks up, it can carry the coals to some dry brush or your tent, starting a fire that no one is able to stop.
Pour water over the fire to drown all embers, even those no longer glowing red. Stir everything up with a shovel and then put your hand over the pit to test for heat. If it’s still hot, repeat the process.
2. Be Safe with Fireworks
There’s no harm in a little backyard fireworks fun, as long as you remember the rules of fireworks safety. Here are just a few:
· Only light one firework at a time.
· Keep a garden hose or bucket of water on hand. The hose should be running and the bucket large and full.
· Don’t try to relight fireworks, even if it didn’t light the first time.
· Light fireworks outdoors in a safe area. Avoid areas surrounded by a lot of wood, trees, or dry brush. A driveway or large sidewalk works best.
· Do not let young children handle fireworks, even sparklers.
· Have an adult present at all times.
· Keep pets away from the fireworks.
· Remind spectators to stand back when lighting fireworks.
3. Discard Cigarettes Properly
Cigarette butts should never be thrown on the ground. Besides the fact that this is littering and could result in a fine, discarded butts can catch a number of things on fire. Likewise, avoid throwing them in trashcans, since it can start that on fire as well. Aim to only dispose of cigarettes in designated ashtrays.
4. Burn Leaves Safely
Pretty soon the leaves will be falling, which will lead to burning season. To begin with, it’s best to consider all other alternatives to burning leaves, such as throwing them away or putting them in a compost bin. Burnt leaves release dangerous hydrocarbons into the air that can be harmful to the environment.
If you decide to burn your leaves anyway, be sure to do it during an appropriate time of year. In most cities, there will be a designated period of time set for burning leaves, and you should try to comply. You can also contact your local fire department and ask the best time to do it.
Before lighting the fire, clear the perimeter of any flammable material. Many people like to do this on the side of the road or in a burn barrel. Stay close by as the fire is burning and have a garden hose or bucket of water nearby to douse the fire if it gets out of control. When the leaves are all burned, hose down the area to ensure all embers are out.
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