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Fire Safety in the Great Outdoors

June 6th, 2011 | by admin admin | in Safety Advice |    0   comments

The sun is finally here, and summer is on its way. Time to explore the great outdoors. Despite a damp, cool spring, wildfires remain a threat in B.C.’s forests. And tinder-dry wooden cabins can easily become fire traps in the summer.

In 2003, Mike Barre tried to stomp out a cigarette behind his house. Within moments a fire sprang to life, spreading quickly to nearby forested land. The wildfire grew to more than 260 kilometres and cost the B.C. Ministry of Forests more than $ 31 million to fight.

In B.C., it is illegal to drop a burning substance within one kilometre of a forest. Barre was fined $ 3,000. You can avoid Barre’s mistake by keeping a bucket of water nearby for your cigarette butts.

Besides cigarettes, campfires remain one of the leading causes of wildfires. Some tips:

  • Check with authorities whether there are any restrictions on open fires.
  • Consider wind conditions: will the wind carry sparks to combustible materials?
  • Use an established firepit, if possible, and create a fuel-free zone at least one metre around your fire. Keep the fire a reasonable distance away from flammable materials, including logs, stumps and trees.
  • Keep a shovel and sand, or at least eight litres of water on hand.
  • Extinguish the fire by stirring water in until the ashes are cool to the touch.

Whether you’re using a campfire, stove, barbeque or candle (in a tip-proof holder, of course!), never leave any open flame unattended and keep it away from combustibles, children and pets.

If you own a cabin, install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on every storey, and check them upon arrival. Wooden cabins can burn incredibly fast. In July 2009, three Vancouver children died in a tragic fire on Shuswap Lake. Their cabin – like most – was tinder dry and although firefighters arrived on the scene within five minutes, flames were already shooting 60 metres into the sky.

If a fire started at your cabin, would you have an extinguisher on hand? Would you know your location, to direct emergency responders? Would you have a fire escape plan in place?

Finally, drink responsibly. Knocking back copious amounts of beer and vodka, and then blowing up propane tanks in a clearing, while popular in some circles, is not the best way to enjoy the outdoors. Alcohol is a contributing factor in many fires.

For more informataion:

Office of the Fire Marshal, Ontario. Cottage Fire Safety Tips

B.C. Wildfire Management Branch. Respect the Use of Stoves and Campfires

Bonus feature: This Week in Vancouver

EAT! Vancouver – Vancouver Convention Centre – June 10 to 12

Dragon BoatFestival – False Creek and Richmond – June 11 to 12

Author: Susanna Chu

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