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Fire Safety for Outdoor Activities​

The NIH Fire Marshal would like to share a few tips on fire safety. Each year there are many injuries and fires that can be prevented. Many people take their vacations during the summer months. Many injuries or fires occur with unattended campfires, fire pits, chimineas and propane or charcoal grills. In 2020, there were 58,950 wildfires compared to 50,477 in 2019 according to the National Interagency Fire Center. About 10.1 million acres were burned in 2020 compared to 4.7 million acres in 2019. For more information see https://youtu.be/D2dCPKpkbCo (anyone unable to view the video may contact the NIH Fire Marshal for a verbal explanation).

Fire Pit Safety

Permanent and portable fire pits can be a danger to your home. You can prevent fire or burn injury with these simple steps. (Reference: U.S. Fire Administration).

  • Keep fire pits and chimeneas at least 10 feet from dwellings or other combustible materials.
  • Use a metal screen over wood burning fires to prevent embers from flying and igniting nearby vegetation or combustibles.
  • For added fire safety have a charged garden hose nearby in case fire gets out of control or to extinguish any flying embers.
  • When you are finished with the fire, totally extinguish the wood with a garden hose to ensure the fire is extinguished.
  • If you have any totally extinguished burnt logs or wood place them in a metal trash can for disposal.

For more information: https://youtu.be/3aJGdizlwyY (anyone unable to view the video may contact the NIH Fire Marshal for a verbal explanation)

Campfire Safety

Unattended campfires that are not fully extinguished cause wildfires that can burn hundreds of acres, burn homes and cause burn injuries. (Reference: U.S. Fire Administration).

  • Build campfires at least 25 feet away from tents, shrubs and anything that can burn.
  • Clear any pine needles, dry vegetation or other combustibles around your campfire site.
  • Closely watch children when the campfire is in use.
  • Store matches and lighters out of children's sight.
  • Have a garden hose or a water can nearby to extinguish any flying embers and to totally extinguish the fire when you are done with the campfire.

For more information: https://youtu.be/XCX_eFOtXKU (anyone unable to view the video may contact the NIH Fire Marshal for a verbal explanation).

Wildfire Precautions

Each year wildfire burns millions of acres of land. More and more homes are built closer to the wildland-urban interface. Practice and share wildfire safety tips in your community. The following tips will help prepare for wildfire season. (Reference: U.S. Forestry Service).

  • Create a safety zone of up to 100 feet around your home, remove pine needles and dry leaves from around your home.
  • Keep woodpiles at least 30 feet away from your home.
  • Practice a home evacuation plan and have a family communication plan.​

For more information: https://youtu.be/rJBSYvECris (anyone unable to view the video may contact the NIH Fire Marshal for a verbal explanation).

If you have any questions regarding summer fire safety tips or general fire safety precautions, please contact the NIH Fire Marshal at 301-496-0487. Use their hazard reporting tool for situations on the Bethesda campus: https://www.ors.od.nih.gov/ser/dfm/Pages/Community-Complaint-Report.aspx. You may remain anonymous when reporting a hazard, but it always helps to have a contact so they can obtain information as needed.

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