As we enter camping season, campers are asked to keep themselves and the environment safe while enjoying the great outdoors.
Before heading out on a camping trip, those utilizing RVs and campers should make sure the furnace is in proper working order. This includes cleaning the furnace and looking to make sure animals havenâ€™t moved in during the winter months.
With nights still cool, especially in high elevations, some people get creative in how to stay warm at night. For some who donâ€™t have a working furnace, this can mean utilizing the camperâ€™s stove or oven as a heat source. Sweetwater County Fire Warden Mike Bournazian says this is a common mistake that can be deadly.
â€œCarbon monoxide poisoning is real, and it is fatal. We have had those cases almost annually in the state of Wyoming where someone in a camper or an RV succumbs to carbon monoxide poisoning because the furnace was not operating properly,â€ said Bournazian. Â â€œOr people will use their stove tops if the furnace isnâ€™t working. Theyâ€™ll leave the burners on to give off heat. The problem is that it also uses the oxygen within that confined area of an RV or a camper.”
While the area is generally wet and green during Memorial Day weekend, Bournazian says wildfires are still a concern.
â€œIn reality, a campfire can hold heat for up to a week. You get a warm windy day where the grasses around that campfire dry out over that weekâ€™s time, and then we have a problem–those ashes blow out, and then we have a wildfire,â€ said Bournazian.
When it comes to campfires, planning ahead is the key. Bournazian advises campers to pack a bucket and a shovel when loading up for the big camping trip. Fires should be completely out and cool to the touch before they are left.
Below are some campfire safety tips:
- Bring a shovel and plenty of water to make sure you can put your campfire out completely.
- Build campfires away from overhanging branches, steep slopes, rotten stumps, logs, dry grass and leaves.
- Use an existing fire ring or rock ringed fire pit if available.
- Clear all flammable material at least five feet away from all directions of the fire.
- Building and maintaining campfires should always be done under adult supervision.
- Never leave a campfire unattended.
- Use dry wood no bigger than the fire ring or pit.
- Extinguish your campfire before you leave that location or call it a night.
- To completely extinguish your campfire, pour water on the embers until the hissing and steaming stops. Then use a shovel to mix dirt and water with the ashes until what remains of your fire is cold to the touch of a bare hand.
- Donâ€™t cover the ashes with rocks to extinguish your fire.
- Donâ€™t head home until your fire is completely out.
- If you discover an unattended fire, use 911 to report it and if possible do what you can to put it out.
- Report suspicious smoke.