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Trail Sign #19

Updated: Mar 2

Humans - Campfire Safety

Location (SLURL)

As we gather around crackling flames and roasted marshmallows, it's essential to remember the importance of campfire safety, especially as we celebrate a beloved icon's milestone—Smokey Bear's 80th birthday. For eight decades, Smokey has tirelessly reminded us of the dangers of wildfires and the critical role we play in preventing them.

Before heading out on your camping trip, research any fire restrictions or bans in your area. Check with local authorities or visit websites like the National Park Service or the U.S. Forest Service for updated information. Respect fire bans and restrictions, as they are implemented to protect natural areas during times of heightened fire danger, such as dry conditions or high winds.

When setting up your campfire, choose a designated fire ring or pit whenever possible. These established areas are designed to contain flames and minimize the risk of spreading. Clear the area around your campfire site of any dry leaves, brush, or overhanging branches that could catch fire. Ensure there is a safe distance between the fire and tents, trees, and other flammable materials.

Use only locally sourced firewood or gather wood from the ground near your campsite. Avoid transporting firewood from long distances to prevent the spread of invasive pests and diseases. Build your campfire gradually, starting with small sticks and twigs and gradually adding larger pieces of wood. Avoid constructing overly large fires that can quickly get out of control. Never leave your campfire unattended, and always have a water source, shovel, or extinguishing tool nearby to quickly douse flames if necessary.

When it's time to extinguish your campfire, allow the wood to burn down to ash if possible. Use a shovel to spread out the remaining embers and ash within the fire ring. Slowly pour water over the ashes, stirring them with a stick to ensure all embers are fully extinguished. Continue adding water and stirring until the ashes are cool to the touch. Feel the ashes with the back of your hand to confirm they are no longer hot. Once the fire is completely out, scatter the wet ashes over a wide area to disperse them.

In honor of Smokey Bear's 80th birthday, pledge to be a responsible steward of our natural resources by practicing safe campfire habits and promoting wildfire prevention. Share Smokey's message of "Only You Can Prevent Wildfires" with friends, family, and fellow outdoor enthusiasts. Educate others about the importance of fire safety and the role each person plays in protecting our forests and wildlands. Support organizations and initiatives dedicated to wildfire prevention and forest conservation, ensuring that future generations can enjoy the beauty of our natural landscapes for years to come.

As we celebrate Smokey Bear's 80th birthday, let us heed his timeless message of wildfire prevention and commit to practicing safe campfire habits whenever we venture into the great outdoors. By following these essential tips for campfire safety, we can honor Smokey's legacy and ensure that our outdoor adventures are enjoyable, responsible, and fire-free. Together, let's continue to protect our forests, wildlife, and communities from the threat of wildfires, preserving these cherished landscapes for generations to come. Happy Birthday, Smokey!


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