Outdoor Fire Safety

With the warmth of the summertime sun comes drier weather and even drier vegetation. During the summer months wildfires can rage out of control. So it is imperative to use precautions when burning anything outdoors during the dry summer months. The US Forest Service recommends the following precautions when burning outdoors:


Check local laws on burning. Some communities allow burning only during specified hours while others forbid it entirely. Check the weather; don't burn on dry, windy days. Consider the alternatives to burning. Some types of debris, such as leaves, grass and stubble may be of more value if used for compost. Household items such as plastics, glass, paper and aluminum cans can be recycled or hauled to a local sanitary landfill. If you must burn debris, do it safely.

Household Trash

If you must burn trash, don't pile it on the ground. It will not burn completely and will easily be blown around. Local fire officials can recommend a safe receptacle for burning trash. It should be placed in a cleared area, away from overhead branches and wires. Never attempt to burn aerosol cans; heated cans will explode. Flying metal from an exploding aerosol might cause an injury. Burning trash scattered by such an explosion has caused the spread of many fires.

Agricultural Residue and Forest Litter

Be sure you are fully prepared before burning off your field or garden spot. To control the fire, you will need a source of water, a bucket and a shovel for tossing dirt on the fire. If possible, a fire line should be plowed around the area to be burned. Large fields should be separated into small plots for burning one at a time. Be sure to stay with your fire until it is out. Before doing any burning in a wooded area, contact your local forester. The forester will weigh all factors, explain them to you and offer technical advice.

Lanterns, Stoves and Heaters

Cool all lanterns, stoves and heaters before refueling. Place them on the ground in a cleared area and fill them. If fuel spills, move the appliance to a new clearing before lighting it. Recap and store flammable liquid containers in a safe place. Never light lanterns and stoves inside a tent, trailer or camper. If you use a lantern or stove inside a tent or trailer, be sure to have adequate ventilation. Always read and follow instructions provided by the manufacturer.

Spark Arresters

All types of equipment and vehicles are required to have spark arresters. Chain saws, portable generators, cross country vehicles and trail bikes require spark arrestors if used in or near grass, brush or a wooded area. To make sure that the spark arrester is functioning properly, check with the dealer or contact your local Forest Service or State Forestry Office.