Summertime brings out some of the best in Colorado. With beautiful vistas and adventure filled days, it’s no surprise travelers love to flock to our state for their summer vacations. However, the dry climate that makes our area so popular also raises the risk of wildfires.
2020 saw the three largest wildfires in Colorado’s history, and we know that a wildfire can start anytime or anywhere. As the summer months approach, wildfire prevention and safety has been foremost on our minds at the Carbondale Fire District. The majority of wildfires are caused by humans, meaning they are preventable. With that in mind, we want to share several tips for wildfire prevention and safety so all our visitors and residents will be armed with the information they need to stay vigilant and have a safe summer.
- Stay Updated on Local Alerts and Conditions
Just like you check the weather before you go on a trip, you should also be checking for drought and wind conditions as well as local fire bans and restrictions. These restrictions and bans are put in place for a reason, and you’d be putting more than just yourself at risk if you disobey them. In addition to the local regulations, the campsite you are staying at may have rules put in place regarding building campfires. You can check for statewide fire ban information here. Want to sign up for emergency alerts for an area you will be traveling to in Colorado? You can sign up here. You’ll need to sign up with the county you reside in or will be traveling to, since each county has its own alert system.
2. Build and Maintain Campfires Correctly
If you’ve determined through checking local regulations and monitoring the weather conditions that it’s safe to build a campfire, there are several things you can do to minimize the risks. First, choose an open, flat area for your fire, and scrape away any debris and grass down to the bare soil. If there is no existing fire pit, ring the build area with rocks. Make sure you are building it far away from flammable materials such as tents, logs, brush, low-hanging branches, dry grass, and dead leaves. Keep children and pets away from the fire, and always have a responsible adult keeping watch over it. Never leave your campfire unattended.
3. Extinguish Your Campfire Until It’s Cold
When it comes time to put out the fire you built, remember that the fire isn’t out until it’s cold to the touch. Drown your fire with a full bucket of water, then stir it with a shovel. Next, pour another bucket of water onto the fire and stir again. The embers must be completely cooled before you leave the fire site.
4. Safely Operate and Maintain Vehicles
When there is a high risk for fire, you need to be extra careful when operating vehicles in the wildfire season. Your exhaust can reach temperatures above 1000 degrees if you’ve been driving hard or off-roading, so never drive or park over dry grass. We recommend that you carry a shovel and fire extinguisher on your off-road vehicle as well. Always ensure that your vehicles are up to date on maintenance before traveling to a dry area.
5. Use Fireworks With Extreme Caution
There’s nothing quite like watching fireworks on a warm summer evening, but they should never be used without serious forethought. The use of fireworks is prohibited on public lands. It is also prohibited on land in unincorporated Garfield County. You’ll need to check with each municipality or different county to see if fireworks are allowed. If fireworks are allowed in your location, be sure to never set them off on top of dry grass, do not let children or teenagers light fireworks alone, and always keep water at the ready to douse any sparks that catch. Fireworks are not toys.
If you’re unsure about the wildfire risk of certain activities, your friends at the Carbondale Fire District are here to answer any questions. Education is an incredibly important aspect of preventing wildfires, and we’re happy to help provide resources to Carbondale residents and travelers alike.