Going back to nature means leaving behind some familiar conveniences and adopting some unfamiliar procedures. To make sure a camping trip is safe and enjoyable, be sure to follow these rules.
Purchasing a tent
- Some tents are manufactured from cotton, which is flammable. Sometimes the waterproofing treatment increases flammability.
- Buy flame retardant tent. Remember, "flame retardant" doesn't mean fire-proof. A flying ember can land on the tent and ignite it in seconds. The question is will it burn more slowly than a non-flame retardant tent?
Pitching a tent
- Inside a tent are other things that can burn, such as sleeping bags, clothing and of course, occupants. Pitch a tent upwind from any campfire, cooking, candles or gas lanterns.
- Create a three foot brush clearing around a tent.
- Use only battery-operated lights near or inside a tent.
- Always refuel any heat-producing appliance, such as lanterns and stoves, outside a tent.
- Store flammable liquids outside a tent.
- Don't cook inside a tent.
- When preparing a campfire, select a site that is away from grass, trees and tents. Clear away ground litter, twigs, leaves and organic material down to bare soil for 10 feet around the campfire.
- Place rocks around the campfire pit.
- The site also should be downwind from the sleeping area. Sparks or embers are carried by the wind and may ignite tents or sleeping bags.
- If weather conditions are especially dry and a fire for cooking not needed, then don't build one. Be sure to pay close attention to forest conditions, warnings from the park service and local laws.
- Never use gasoline to light a fire. It is extremely explosive. A fire should be lit using kindling or a lighter stick.
- Keep a pail of sand or water nearby in the event it is needed to control the fire or extinguish it.
- Wear tight-fitting cotton or wool clothing while working near the campfire.
- Always keep a careful eye on fires. Make sure children don't play near them.
Extinguish a camp fire
- Before going to sleep or leaving the campsite for any reason, be sure to put the fire completely out. Many forest fires start from unattended campfires or those that were not completely extinguished.
- Douse the fire with water or sand, break up the coals, add more water or sand, stir it with a stick and cover the dead embers with dirt.
- Make sure the fire is completely out before bedding down or leaving the campsite.
- Follow the manufacturer's directions. Make sure all connections are tight to avoid leaks.
- Never check for a gas leak with a lighted match. Instead, put a little soapy water on the connections. If the mixture bubbles, gas is seeping out. Don't use the appliance again until it has been checked by a professional.
- Fill the camp stove or gas lantern before each use. Do not refuel a hot stove or lantern. Wait until it cools off.
- Use a funnel to fill the appliances, and wipe up all fuel spills before attempting to light it again.