Survival Starts at Home: Fire, well, well, well, fire is a touchy subject as I sit here writing this and California has some major wildfires going on. So, first off, its summer here its hot you probably don’t need a campfire, you might want one, but you probably don’t need one, it’s like me and my relationship with snickers bars. When we talk “survival starting at home” it really comes down to being prepared and not having to actually “survive”. We do this a couple of ways.
Weather, we make sure we research the weather for the upcoming trip and so we are prepared. Some of the things we want to know is the hi and low temperatures for the time we are going so that we can make sure we have the sleeping bags and clothing to not need a fire the entire time. Next what are my winds and humidity looking like, keep in mind these play a major factor in preventing a wildfire, usually with this we can also look for local fire conditions for the area we are going to. A lot of time the local fire departments will have them posted online and worst-case scenario you can also call the park or the local fire station and ask for an update. Finally, this is more for firewood planning, what are the day light hours, how long are you going to need/want your fire, I have been on more than a few trips where all the wood went night one.
I will hit on this again like I did last night on Facebook, fire is the one aspect of survival that is it is not treated with respect can be more of a danger to you and your groups as well as the community than it can help you. All big fires start small and one spark can ruin a bunch of lives so ask yourself if you really need a fire, especially in the summer in SoCal the answer is no, so think about other options and being prepared to not need a fire. Tell ghost stories with a flashlight or something.
Additionally, with the COVID-19 pandemic going on there is a major concern about first responder safety especially for wildland fire fighters since they take crews from all over the country and world and put them in fire camp. That being said a lot of agencies out here are saying no fires in the back country and are being very restrictive on people only being able to have fires in developed campgrounds ion the fire rings. Even then depending on current conditions they still might say no fire period, so do your research and know before you go.
The upside though is you can usually still use your gas or liquid stoves for cooking so there is an upside although you might need a permit still or they could say no altogether. The reason these stoves get a pass is because you can turn them off immediately and they don’t produce sparks and embers. Even then we have to exercise extreme caution with were we use them and to make sure there isn’t any fuel nearby that can start a fire.
Now with any fire option when you are done you need to make sure it is dead out, for the stoves that cool enough to handle without burning yourself or picking up a coffee pot that is so hot it melts your gloves (trust me it is not fun and I still got burnt, ha-ha). If you made a wood fire you are going to douse and stir, depending on the size of the fire that might be a while and take a of water, the upside is you had that and a shovel on hand in case you had to put the fire out immediately but even then you might make some trips to get more water. If you can’t touch the ash soup you made its still too hot to leave unattended and hot coals can stay there for a while and spark up once you leave. I have put out other people’s fires on more than a couple occasions.
Basically, my takeaway with this week’s blog is fire is not always necessary when we go out and when we talk about “survival” we need to keep in mind that our use of fire can put ourselves and other at risk. We need to be careful and be responsible always but especially during times of heightened fire danger.