Settling around a firepit with loved ones to roast hotdogs, make s’ mores and tell stories can be one of the most wonderful things about summer. In order to keep these all these memories full of happy and safe moments, here are some quick tips about summer fire safety to keep in mind over the next few months.
Check for fire bans. Fire safety starts before the fire gets started. Before you light a fire make sure you know the rules in your area. In Alberta, you can stay up-to-date on local fire bans at https://www.albertafirebans.ca/. These fire bans are not suggestions and you can be fined for not complying.
Check for hazards. Look around your fire pit to make sure it's not under any low-hanging branches or near any brush or bushes. Items like these can easily go up in flames if the fire gets bigger than anticipated. There should also be a radius of eight to 10 feet around the fire pit that is clear of chairs, food and any other debris or obstructions. Make sure that any flammable items are far from the fire. Finally, keep an eye on the weather to make sure that wind gusts and storms won't spread your fire in unexpected ways.
Have water close by. Fire can be unpredictable. A big gust of wind can cause your flame to get bigger than you expected. If you have water, dirt or a shovel nearby, you can quickly reduce the flames or put the fire out completely if necessary. Controlling the fire can be just as important as putting it out.
Watch the fire. Regardless of what is going on around you, make sure a responsible adult is always keeping an eye on the flames. If there are pets or children near the fire, it is also important to make sure that they steer clear of the danger zones and don’t get too close to the flames.
Put it out before bed. When you are ready to call it a night, it’s important to extinguish the fire. There are a number of ways you can do this, but throwing water or dirt on the fire is always the best option. Then, stir the embers around with a shovel to ensure another fire won't start. Ideally, the coals should be wet and cold.
Most of the nearly 1,500 wildfires that we see in Alberta each year are caused by humans. With these safety tips, you and your family can enjoy a campfire and prevent forest fires for years to come.