Prevent & Prepare for Wildfires

Stay safe outdoors with these helpful tips to prevent and prepare for wildfires during your adventures and road trips.

As the threat of wildfire looms, outdoor enthusiasts and travelers need to understand the importance of wildfire prevention and preparation for outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, driving outdoors, and hauling campers.

So, considering the majority of wildfires are caused by humans, how can we do our part to prevent and prepare for wildfire? Here are some tips:


Preventing Wildfires

Conditions: Pay close attention to the weather. If conditions are dry or windy, a campfire or off-road driving may not be the best decision.

Camping Areas: In campgrounds and established camp areas, choose your campsites wisely by opting for sites equipped with fire rings or pits. Avoid setting up camp near dry vegetation or overhanging branches, as these increase the risk of accidental fire ignitions.

Campfires: Before starting a campfire regardless of whether the campsite is established or primitive, check local regulations and any current fire restrictions. Always follow proper campfire safety protocols, including keeping fires in an open location far from flammables, small, never unattended, and fully extinguished before leaving. If you think the fire is out, stir it and look again.

Camp Stoves or Grills: Consider using portable camp stoves or grills during dry conditions. They are a safer alternative to campfires and minimize the risk of sparks and embers that could ignite nearby vegetation.

Driving Safely in Wildfire-Prone Areas

Stay Informed: Before embarking on a road trip, check local fire and weather conditions. Be aware of any wildfire warnings, road closures, or evacuation orders in the areas you plan to visit.

Maintain Your Vehicle: Ensure your vehicle is properly maintained to minimize the risk of mechanical failures or sparks that could start a fire. It takes just one spark from the exhaust of a poorly maintained vehicle to ignite dry vegetation. Regularly inspect your tires, brakes, and exhaust system, and promptly address any issues.

Choose areas devoid of tall grass or other flammable materials when parking your vehicle. Avoid parking over dry vegetation, as the hot exhaust system can pose a fire hazard.

Preventing Wildfires While Hauling Campers or Trailers

Secure Chains and Equipment: Before towing a camper or trailer, ensure all safety chains, electrical connections, and towing equipment are securely fastened. A dragging chain can create sparks, which could ignite surrounding vegetation. Remember, it takes just one spark.

Regular Maintenance: Like with your vehicle, routinely inspect your camper or trailer for any signs of damage or malfunction. Ensure that the electrical systems are in good working order, and — it’s worth repeating — fix any dragging or loose parts that could cause sparks.

Carry a Fire Extinguisher: Always have a fully charged fire extinguisher in your towing vehicle. Familiarize yourself with its operation and keep it readily accessible. A fire extinguisher can help suppress small fires quickly, preventing them from escalating. Having a shovel and bucket handy is a good idea, too.

Additional Tips for Wildfire Prevention

Fireworks: Follow local regulations and use fireworks in designated areas only. Never ignite them in dry or windy conditions. Keep a bucket of water nearby for disposal of used fireworks, and, if available, a fire extinguisher handy.

Target Shooting: Choose target shooting areas away from flammable vegetation and ensure you have a safe backdrop for your targets. Use non-flammable targets and avoid using incendiary or explosive ammunition.

Drones: Fly drones responsibly and avoid flying them over dry or fire-prone areas. Be mindful of the risk of drone malfunctions that could potentially start a fire, and always follow local regulations and guidelines.

In short, Smokey the Bear had it right when he reminded us that only we can prevent wildfires. It is indeed a shared responsibility. Now, here are some tips for how to prepare for wildfires.



Safety Tips for Preparing for Wildfires

Stay Informed: Regularly check local wildfire updates and forecasts while staying tuned to official channels and emergency alerts. Follow recommendations from local authorities and fire agencies.

Plan Ahead: Research fire danger ratings and restrictions in your area. Have a clear understanding of evacuation routes and shelter locations. If you’re heading out on a backpack trip or hike, register at the trailhead and inform someone about your outdoor plans and estimated return time. Share your itinerary with a trusted person and establish check-in points.

Pack Essential Supplies: Carry a well-stocked first-aid kit and necessary medications. Pack ample food, water, and emergency rations. Bring extra clothing layers, including long sleeves and pants for protection. Include a flashlight, signal mirror, whistle, and multitool in your gear. For technology, a satellite messenger, personal locator beacon, and weather alert radio are worth considering.

Keep Air Clean: In your camper or car, an air purifier for wildfire smoke removes smoke particles from indoor air to help control ozone levels. An air purifier for your car will help keep the interior air clean as you evacuate smokey areas. If an air purifier is not installed in your camper or car, portable air purifiers are available.

Wear a Mask: Masks with an N95, KN95, N100, or FFP2 rating help keep harmful smoke particulates from reaching your lungs.

Stay Alert and Aware: Observe your surroundings for signs of smoke or fire. Report any suspicious activities or smoke to authorities. Be cautious when using flammable materials and equipment. Pay attention to changing weather conditions and wind patterns.

Emergency Response: If a wildfire approaches, follow evacuation orders immediately. Stay calm and leave the area by the designated evacuation routes. Do not wait until the last minute to evacuate. Follow instructions from emergency personnel and respect their guidance.

Post-Recreation Measures: : Clean your gear and clothing thoroughly to remove any potential fire hazards. Gear, including stoves, lanterns, and camping equipment, can become fire hazards if not properly cleaned. Additionally, clothing can accumulate flammable substances such as oil and grease, which must be removed to eliminate potential fire risks. Properly dispose of cigarette butts in designated containers. Put out or report any unattended or abandoned campfires.

Remember, wildfires are unpredictable and dangerous. Stay safe out there.

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