Last year, California experienced some of the most devastating forest fires they’ve seen in years. In many cases, there’s not much we can do to prevent the fires like those that plagued California. Dry conditions and a single lightning strike are often all it takes to set tens of thousands of acres ablaze. However, evidence suggests that as many as 9 out of 10 wildfires are caused by humans in some way. Irresponsible camping is often the cause of these manmade fires. While California is often the first state we think of when we hear about wildfires, it’s important to remember that every state is susceptible to fires. Here are some of the ways that you can prevent wildfires during your next camping trip.
The most frequent and obvious cause of camping-related wildfires is a campfire that gets out of control. Campfires are a vital ingredient in the perfect camping trip but it’s important that you’re responsible with your fires. First, when building your fire, make sure that the area you’re camping in doesn’t have any fire restrictions in place. If there are restrictions in place, adhere to them. Next, before building your fire, construct an important fire “ring” with rocks or provided steel rings that can be found at many campsites. Keep your fires small and manageable and try to keep a good sized container of water at hand in case you need to douse a spreading flame. When you’re done with the fire for the night, and definitely before leaving the site for good, make sure you fully douse your fire until the area is cool to the touch.
If you smoke, take extra care when extinguishing your butts. Simply tossing your finished cigarette on the ground when you’re done is not only littering, it could set an entire forest ablaze.
If you’re camping over the Fourth of July, you may be tempted to bring some fireworks along. In most states, it’s illegal to use fireworks in forested areas and it’s for good reason. Only use fireworks in approved areas without dry vegetation.
Finally, take care when driving your vehicle to your campsite. A vehicle’s exhaust can ignite dry vegetation, so always park in areas where you won’t unintentionally set tall grass on fire.