ESSENTIAL SKILLS

Fire Safety Tips: A Guide to Fire Safety

John C. Porter
Written by John C. Porter

Fire safety, indoor and outdoor is something every individual should take seriously. Even a single mistake, no matter how small it may seem, could lead to a serious disaster. Anything which can cause a fire, whether in the house or outdoor is dangerous when mistreated. The situation can be more difficult if you and your family neglect the basic rules which are required to survive in case of a fire. This article offers fire safety tips that can help you survive in case fire erupts when you are in the house or out camping.

When it comes to fire and safety, you first need to know about the basic characteristics of fire:

  • Fire is hot: The heat and smoke created by fire can be dangerous. Inhaling the hot air can burn your lungs.
  • Fire is fast: In a matter of minutes, a fire could become life-threatening. In about five minutes, a whole residence could be covered in flames
  • Fire is dark: Fire that burns in less oxygen can produce gasses which make you drowsy and disoriented. When a lot of carbon monoxide is produced, you can easily get poisoned. Asphyxiation is the primary cause of death by fire, exceeding burns by a ratio of three-to-one.

Using A Fire Extinguisher

Before an emergency occurs, it is advisable for you to know how to use a fire extinguisher. You can check with the fire departments close to you to ascertain whether they offer training for homeowners.

Keep extinguishers within reach or close to the exit of a building. This way, you can fight it while making your way to the door to make an escape in case the flames are out of control.

Using A Fire Extinguisher

The acronym PASS can be used to help you recall how you are to use the extinguisher.

  • Pull the safety pin of the extinguisher
  • Aim the extinguisher at the base of the flame, but not the flame itself. When doing so, you should be at least six feet away from the fire.
  • Squeeze and hold the trigger, keeping your extinguisher in an upright position
  • Sweep the flames’ source until your extinguisher runs dry

Any time you use an extinguisher, regardless of whether or not the extinguisher is empty, make an effort of replacing or refilling it as soon as possible. The same applies for any extinguisher that has its pressure gauge into the red zone over time.

Companies that manufacture extinguishers charge about fifteen dollars to refill a five-pound ABC extinguisher, as long as it contains a metal valve. Devices with plastic valves cannot be refilled and should be discarded once they have been used.

Tips for Preventing A Fire

Before a fire

There are a number of things you will need to consider if you want to protect yourself, your family as well as property in case of a fire.

Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Alarms Detectors

  • Make sure you have your smoke alarms installed. Alarm systems that are working appropriately can reduce the chances of getting trapped in a fire.
  • Ensure the smoke alarms are placed in strategic locations within your residence. This can include the roof and the basement.
  • The smoke system can be complemented with a working carbon monoxide detector placed in common areas of the residence
  • Test and clean the systems at least once every month and make sure their batteries are in excellent condition. You are required to replace the alarms once every ten years.

Cooking Safety

  • Do not at any point leave cooking unattended
  • Keep pot holders, towels, and curtain far from the flames
  • When cooking, remember to put in a tight-fitting cloth
  • Never use an oven to heat your house

Escaping Fire

  • For the purpose of avoiding fire, make sure you have an escape plan. Make sure you review the plans from time to time
  • Verify that the windows are not painted or nailed shut
  • Always remember to remain flat on the floor, hallways and stairways.

Heating Source

  • Put the space heaters a distance away from any combustible or flammable objects
  • Use only the fuel that is designated for the space heater you are using.

Lighters/Matches and Smoking

  • Always keep lighter and matches out of children’s reach
  • Do not smoke in bed. Also, never smoke when medicated or feeling drowsy
  • Be a responsible smoker

Electrical Wiring

  • Make sure all the power outlets have been covered, and there is no exposed wiring
  • Inspect electric wire extension to ascertain whether there are loose plugs or exposed wires
  • Do not overload power outlets or extension cables
  • Make sure the wires do not run underneath the rugs, across high traffic zones, or over nails

Wildfires

Unlike most natural calamities, wildfires are as a result of human action and can also be prevented by the same human.

Wildfires

It is a problem for meteorologists to predict the outbreak of wildfires, so people in areas that are prone to fires should make plans and prepare themselves in case they may be required to evacuate without notice.

Here are a number of tips you need to consider so as to prevent wildfires and what actions to take in case you happen to be caught in one.

Preventing Wildfire

  • Call 911, contact the park service, or the local fire department when you notice an out-of-control or unattended fire
  • Do not leave the fire unattended when you are out camping. Completely put it off – by pouring water and stirring its ashes until they are cold – before going to sleep or leaving your campsite
  • Take an extra precaution when using and fueling stoves, heaters, and lantern when you are out camping. Making sure the heating and lighting devices are cool before you can refuel them. Avoid fuel spills and store flammable objects away from appliances
  • Avoid disposing matches, cigarettes, and smoking objects from automobiles, or discarding them on park grounds. Make sure you completely extinguish cigarettes before you can dispose of them.
  • Follow the laid regulation when burning waste. Avoid burning yard waste during windy conditions, and keep water, shovel, and a fire extinguisher nearby to ensure the fire is in check. When burning materials, remove all flammable ones from the yard.

Tips for Evacuation

  • When advised to evacuate, it is crucial to do that immediately
  • You should familiarize yourself with evacuation routes in advance, and prepare a checklist and evacuation emergency supplies
  • Put on protective gear to protect yourself from the ashes and sparks

Preparing your House before Leaving

  • Get rid of combustibles such as yard waste, firewood, fuel cans, and barbecue grill from your compound
  • To prevent drafts, close all vents, windows, and doors
  • Switch off fuel oil supplies, propane and natural gas
  • To discourage or slow fire, fill any large vessels, including hot tubs, pools, and garbage cans

If you are in a Wildfire

  • Never attempt to outrun the fire. Instead, look for a water mass such as a river, a lake, or pond to crouch in.
  • If you cannot see water nearby, look for a depressed, cleared region with no vegetation. Get on the ground and cover yourself with wet cloths, soil, or blanket. Remain in a low position until the blaze passes
  • Avoid respiratory complications by breathing the air close to the ground surface using a moist cloth to avoid breathing in smoke

Campfire Safety Tips

Campfires are the primary causes of injuries among campers. It is imperative to have an idea of how you are to light your fires when you are out camping to avoid incidents of fire and protect the forest as well.

You need to check the weather forecast to ascertain whether there will be wind gusts which encourage wildfires.

Ideally, the size of your campfire must not exceed a diameter of four feet with a height not exceeding three feet. Moreover, you need to use untreated wood only or charcoal when creating your campfire. Surround it with large rocks to keep the site safe and add heat to the fire.

Campfire Safety Tips

It is advisable to build a fire far away from tree limbs, shrubs, automobiles, dry grass, and rotten stumps.

Also, build your fire away from combustible or flammable objects. Take note of its clearance since the heat from a fire normally extends further than what you see. Therefore, the clearance should be approximately three times the height of your piles.

Additionally, you need to make sure that the campfire site is surrounded by gravel or mineral soil that needs to be about ten feet in all directions. Alternatively, you can decide to water down its surroundings so as to prevent the blaze from spraying outwards.

Safety around the camp fire

  • Before building a campfire, make sure you have the permission to set up one. Consult with the local fire department to ascertain whether it is permissible to make a fire in your camping location
  • If campfires are permitted, you will need to set up one at least twenty-five feet away from anything combustible
  • Clear any dry sticks and leaves, and overhanging low branches to avoid fire from spreading
  • Avoid setting up fire on dry, windy days. Fire can quickly spread during dry and windy conditions
  • Make sure you attend the campfire all the time. When left alone, a campfire could easily become a wildfire
  • Build a small campfire. It is much easier to control a small campfire
  • Gasoline and other flammable or combustible fluids cannot be used to build a fire as these can easily lead to a damaging fire
  • Always keep a bucket of water, hose, or shovel nearby as these can help you put out the fire in case it becomes uncontrollable. When putting off fires, make sure it is completely off as hot object can rebuild a fire
  • When your garment catches fire, drop to the ground and roll over and over until the fire is off completely.
  • In case you get a burn, treat it right away. Use water to cool the burn. Apply medication and cover with a dry, clean cloth.

Putting out the campfire

The most important thing when it comes to setting up a campfire is ensuring that it is completely put out. Thousands of acres of forest land and wilderness are destroyed by allowing campfires to go wild.

When camping and building campfires:

  • Put off the campfire at least thirty minutes before planning to leave the site
  • Make sure the coal is burned to ashes. When leaving, there should be a few coals and no partly burnt wood
  • When extinguishing a blaze rather than hot coals or ashes, use a stick to disturb the ash and wood. This will help in extinguishing the fire effectively.
  • Put some water over the coal. If the pieces of wood or charcoal are extremely hot, they can create so much steam that contains ash. To prevent coming into contact with the ash and steam, avoid standing directly over the fire.
  • After the ash and coal have been wetted down, stir everything using a stick.
  • Keep sprinkling water and continue stirring until there is no more steam
  • Leave the fire zone for about ten minutes. This is a perfect opportunity to get water.
  • Look for hot spots in the area. You can do this by stretching your hand toward the ash, but be keen not to burn your hand.
  • When everything is cold, you are done with the extinguishing. Sprinkle more water and stir for the last time
  • You can dispose of the ash after you have put off the fire
  • Scoop all the ash, coals, and the wood, and place them into a bag or some container
  • Carry it far away and spread it around
  • Alternatively, you can carry it down a half a mile along the trail and disperse it
  • For the unused wood, you may scatter it into the surroundings or leave it stacked nicely if the location is an established high-use campsite

What to do in case of a fire during camping

When camping, it is important to be cautious during incidents of fire. Get everyone away from the fire because it is easier for a tent to catch fire and spread. You should also make an effort to alert Fire and Rescue Service immediately and give them a reference map to the location, including landmarks such as hills and farms so they can find you easily.

Fire in the camp

When smoking, ensure you extinguish the fire on your cigarette. Do not throw the end outside the window of your car as this could easily cause a wildfire.

Do not leave glasses and bottles in the wilds as these could easily catch fire as a result of the scorching heat from the sun.

Tips for avoiding fire in a campsite

Take precaution when utilizing gas canisters and ensure they are always upright. Store the canisters in areas that are well-ventilated and confirm whether there are leaks by applying soap in all connection areas. When not in use, make sure they are turned off. When the stove is lit, do not try to remove or install new propane cylinders or installing one close to a flame or a source of ignition.

When filling a tank, use a funnel and be careful not to spill the fuel. Do not store an operative stove or a fuel container close to a source of the fire. Operate the stove in an area that is well-ventilated and not a confined place such as a tent.

During camping, you need to be aware of carbon monoxide. Do not carry a smoldering barbecue into a tent since its charcoal emits toxic gasses mainly carbon monoxide which is odorless and colorless. This gas can remain in the air even after cooking, so be keen to ensure the gas does not accumulate inside the tent. Make sure you cook in places that are clear from tents.

Tips for avoiding fire in a campsite

When camping, people tend to use mobile homes, caravans, and boats. These components are prone to fire as they carry with them portable devices and bottled fuels such as kerosene, paraffin, and petroleum gas. These products must not be used indoors or within the tents.

Do your research about fire safety in and around a campsite. Avoid using substances that burn with oil such candles and lanterns inside the tents. Avoid smoking inside the tent as this could easily lead to a fire.

Set your cooking zone at a reasonable clearance from the tent and use appliances that are not combustible. Remember to keep gas cylinders, matches, and other flammable things out of the reach of children and ensure you always have an escape plan in case of a fire during camping.

Wrap Up

Above, you learned some ways to take precautions and prevent a fire inside and outside your home. You also have an idea of how to prevent campfire and wildfire, and how to control them when they occur. The tips above can help you survive fire disasters whenever and wherever you are.

Do you still have any questions you need to be answered? Have you ever experienced a wildfire before? Please let us know by posting in the comment section.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John C. Porter
John C. Porter

John is passionate about hiking long distances. His record is over 65 miles in one day with backpacking gear. John hiked over 10 thousand miles, tried over 100 hiking shoes and visited 56 countries so far. His favourite hiking route is West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada.

  • Frank Meyers

    Thank you for sharing the amazing tips on how to keep safe in case you are caught in a fire while camping. These safety tips on how to survive a wild fire will definitely play into my choice of campsite next time so that in case of a wildfire, there is a nearby water body or safe clearing.

  • John C. Porter

    You’re welcome Frank and I’m glad that the article helped you a lot. Make sure to read on every fire safety tips you can find and be prepared for anything. It also helps that people in your camping group discuss safety tips in case of fire.

  • Sam Parker

    This is such important knowledge for any camper yet we often overlook it. I have a question, though. Are there portable fire extinguishers that I can conveniently carry in my backpack to save my gear in case of a campsite fire? We once set the campfire too close to the vestibule and our tent got damaged. Thank God no one was hurt but I want to be prepared the next time such a thing happens.

  • John C. Porter

    Yes there are small fire extinguishers that you can conveniently take in your backpack. Also, when starting a campfire, may sure you have a bucket of water nearby or a shovel, just in case. Make sure you enclose your fire with stones to prevent it from spreading.

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