Forest fire season is a relatively new thing in the American west, but it is a symptom of a huge problem that is pervasive and hard to spot in neighborhoods everywhere. Fire safety, and safety with anything that can cause fires, is hugely important for the proper management of drier and drier summers.
Even though the dryness itself is manmade, it does not mean the fires have to be. Naturally occurring forest fires are a thing, and if they are managed well, they can even improve a natural forest’s odds of survival.
However, if you have a firepit in or around your house it is essential that you know how to deal with any fallout from a mismanaged party. Even if your pit is contained, and even if you have used it for years, here are some easy things you can do to not end up as the next fire season headliner.
Treat It With Respect
Doing things in or around a firepit requires an advanced notion that you are dealing with something innately unstable. Fires are weird because even in the driest climate chances are an ember that ends up in a bush will not set it ablaze.
This is, quite sadly, especially true if you are paying proper attention to that and stamping things out that end up a bit too far away. That being said, there are still many safety tips that should go without saying and these are just scraping off the top level of respectful fire-handling.
When adding wood, making sure that if the wood were to fall over it would not ignite anything is standard practice. If the log is too hefty, you can try and burn it in half but be vigilant that either side does not end up unable to support its own weight.
Overall, never leave a fire unattended for any reason. This is true for cooking at home, baking in an oven, or any similarly mundane activity, so why is it that some do not do this for outdoor equivalents?
Know What You Can Burn
If you are wondering if the answer is “wood” then unfortunately you are wrong. Not all wood is good for burning, and in fact, many treated woods used for construction can release a lot of toxic and semi-toxic chemicals into the environment.
This is not just environmentalism though and standing over a fire like this with the worst chemicals for this situation in the wood can result in serious health complications. So, in general, go as untreated as you viably can.
This is the most important advice when setting fires in domestic areas or in concrete fire pits that are connected to campsites. A lot of the time scrap wood is in abundance here but burning these varieties of timber is a terrible practice. If you end up doing it anyway, make sure at the very least that you are in a well-ventilated area.
If you have a collection of people with a bit of mischief, they may try throwing in things like copper wire (for green flame) or food that spoils easily. Copper is a big problem and gives off copper oxide fumes that can cause upper respiratory problems.
Food, though wasteful, is generally okay though it depends entirely on the product. Keep children away from aerosols, metals, and other things that can literally explode on entering a heated environment.
Stay Away From Lighter Fluid
If you are making a fire to cook food, this should be a given since lighter fluid creates a seriously bad burger. But if you are just having fun, it can seem easy to spray lighter fluid or gas on a few logs to make yourself a fire.
Do not do this, since it can often result in unintended consequences like the fire traveling up the stream, flaring out of control, or more annoyingly, flaring and then dying. Kids love to throw lighter fluid on fire, but it is actually terrible for long-term fire-building success.
Safety issues aside, lighter fluid is just bad practice. It is often very cheap but can actually make the process a lot harder. Proper fire building, tinder collection and use, and good airflow will do one hundred times more for success than any fire-flaring liquid.
You can click here for some additional safety tips concerning this. Accidents will be more likely to occur when children or people who act like children have an explosive, flammable, chemical close to a firepit.
If you are concerned with safety (you should be), the best practice is simply to always treat the blaze as a possible hazard. Firepits can be super fun if done properly, but this takes time, practice, and a lot of the time, a stern hand, to achieve. Do not be afraid to act like a stick in the mud, flames have a terrible tendency of causing serious damage.