When you go camping, do you make sure to bring extra fire safety gear along with your first aid kit? Whether you’re a hardcore backpacker or a recreational camper, it’s always a good idea to have a fire extinguisher on hand. Below are some options for fire safety that are sure to keep the sparks low and your camping experience high.
Portable Fire Extinguishers
Your first thought might be to get a portable fire extinguisher. However, when looking for a lightweight extinguisher to toss in with your other camping gear, make sure you have an outdoor-friendly one. There are two problems with using your standard kitchen extinguisher outdoors. First, the slightest breeze will scatter the contents of the extinguisher, having little to no effect on an uncontrolled outdoor flame. Second, some of the chemicals in these extinguishers are harmful to the environment.
Outdoor-friendly extinguishers are used for type A and B fires, contain biodegradable materials, and are designed to be effective even when it’s a little windy out. They are also small enough you can store them in your vehicle – just in case you’re the type to forget to pack it before leaving.
Homemade Fire Extinguishers
This is a pretty fun option. You can make a few fast-action fire extinguishers with 6 household items: a water bottle, water, vinegar, baking soda, dish soap, and 2 squares of toilet paper. It’s a lot like the old volcano projects you did in 3rd grade, but better, because you get to burn stuff before you cause a minor explosion. The first thing you do is drill a small hole in the water bottle’s lid. Next, fill the bottle about halfway with water, add vinegar until the bottle is about two-thirds of the way full, then put a squirt of dish soap inside, as well. Using the toilet paper, wrap about a tablespoon of baking soda (the way you might roll a cigar). Finally, put the rolled tissue through the hole in the lid, so that the bulk of the baking soda hangs down. Put the lid on the bottle, making sure that the toilet paper doesn’t touch your solution. When you are ready to use your homemade fire extinguisher, just aim and shake!
Homemade extinguishers like this one are good for emergency situations – times when you’ve remembered your cooking ingredients, but forgotten your portable fire extinguisher. If you store them carefully, they won’t go off on you, either. And who knows, it might just get that teenager of yours excited for a few days without electronics!
Other Smothering Options
In addition to handheld fire extinguishers, you have a myriad of smothering options for a small camping fire. Look for a nice, compact fire blanket so packing space isn’t an issue. Fire blankets are great for the outdoors, because they quickly cut off a fire’s oxygen source.
If you really forgot any sort of fire-resistant object, use what you have around. Table salt (because, even though you deprive yourself of real toilets when camping, how can you live without that salt for your fresh-caught fish?) helps dissipate the heat of a fire, making it more manageable when trying to put it out. Baking soda is also effective at eliminating fire’s fuel. And, lastly, nature itself provides an option: dirt. You notice it under your fingernails and by the footprints in your tent, but don’t forget it can put out fires, too. You have your super-duper-pooper-scooper (AKA shovel) handy, right? Then you’re good to go.
Any of these fire safety options are assets to your camping experience. If you’re the type to make lists before stepping outdoors, make sure a portable fire extinguisher is on that campout list of yours. If you’re a last-minute type of person, a homemade alternative might save you that final trip to the store before you can head to the mountains. But if you like to rough it, take your chances, and use your intuition, then some natural smothering materials might suit you best. And, always remember, should the situation seem dangerous, a professional fire extinguisher is better than a crispy forest. Whatever you end up doing this summer, click here and don’t completely ignore fire safety when you go camping.