Summer is here, and odds are that means you will find yourself around a fire with friends and family at some point over the next few weeks. There is just something inherently human about sitting around a fire and looking at the stars isn’t there? And while the crackle of the fire puts your mind at ease, don’t let a lack of preparation get the best of you! The National Fire Protection Agency estimated over 600,000 outdoor pit fires became out of control in 2016. Don’t let yourself be a statistic and follow the following steps listed below!
There are no awards for who can start a fire the fastest! Leave the gasoline and other combustible accelerants in the shed (which should be at least 30 ft away). Start with newspaper and small pieces of dry kindling. As these begin to catch on fire, you can gradually add slightly larger pieces of dry wood. A little patience around gradually building the fire will go a long way. This will provide the fire a solid bed of hot coals that will feed the fire until it is put out.
Respect the Size of You Fire Pit
All fire pits were not created equal and that’s ok. As you add more pieces of wood and eventually full logs to the fire, be sure not to exceed the perimeter of the pit. A good rule to follow is the Halo rule. Image the Fire-pit a halo and think of your fire as the middle of the halo. Leave a “ring” of fire pit exposed to the air with no flame or logs overlapping it. This will prevent any burning logs from tumbling out and creating a panic.
Cooking S’mores and Hot Dogs
Roasting Hot Dogs or Marshmallows for S’mores is a campfire classic. The introduction of cooking over a fire does add some level of safety concern, especially when the in the hands of children. Marshmallows can combust into flames if not watched closely, which can cause a bit of panic if not prepared or know what to do. Be sure to not sway the burning ‘mallow back and forth, in an attempt to have the air put it out. This will cause the burning marshmallow to fly off which could hit a person or could start another fire. Slowly remove the marshmallow from the fire and blow on it until out. Or add it to the flames and try again. Be sure to keep a close eye on children if they are involved in the cooking!
Putting out the fire
After following these steps, you’ve most likely had a successful fire! The best course of action when putting out a fire would be to let it die down as much as possible before adding water from a hose or bucket. The fire should be a pile of hot, fading red embers. After applying water, be sure to push around the now extinguished embers with a fire poker. This will evenly spread the water ensuring all embers are out. Stick around for another 10 minutes or so and continue to move around what is left until it is no longer smoking.
Preventing a Fire from Spreading
Sometimes, even after following all the steps listed above, a fire can begin to spread out of control. In this case, you need to remain calm as before you started the fire, you made sure you had at least two of the following fire extinguishing options.
The best option would be a hose that has been already turned on with the nozzle set to spray mode. The spray mode will douse the entire fire as opposed to the jet feature which may push hot embers outside the pit, potentially resulting in more fire.
If you are not close to your house and don’t have access to a hose, a properly functioning fire extinguisher is a great option. Be sure that the extinguisher is charged and not out of date. Also, remember that fire extinguishers only provide about 10 seconds of a chemical spray to put out the flame. Aim directly at the base of the fire and cover the flame entirely.
The last option would be 2 five-gallon buckets of sand. Sand will cut off the oxygen to the flame resulting in an end to the fire.
As mentioned, have two of the three options in case one fails, or you need more extinguishing power. If the flame persists, immediately call 911 for your local fire department and vacate the area.
A Safe Fire is a Fun Fire
At Mija, we know gathering around a fire is a great way to spend time with family and friends. Be sure to follow the tips outlined in this article to ensure safety for all those you love!