Skip to main content

WVU Extension experts provide summer fire safety advice

A man tends to a smoldering campfire in the woods, a pile of firewood sits in the foreground.

As camping season draws near, two WVU Extension Experts highlight the importance of fire safety practices during National Wildfire Awareness Month. (WVU Photo)

Download full-size

May is National Wildfire Awareness Month and vacation season is right around the corner. For anyone planning summer fun — from campfires to grilling — West Virginia University experts offer advice on checking fire safety off your seasonal bucket list.

Bruce Loyd, WVU Extension agriculture and natural resources agent, shares insights into how to keep your campfire safe and enjoyable for all. Mark Lambert, director of the WVU Extension Fire Service, has more to share about various summer fire safety concerns.


“When camping, always have a plan to put out your fire before you leave or go to sleep. It’s good practice to carry water with you. Most campsites have a metal or rock ring, which is much easier and safer to use than building your own somewhere new.

“Before building your fire, clear away debris that could cause the fire to spread. That way, if a spark were to come out of the fire pit, there is less risk of flames starting outside the ring. When you build a campfire, don’t think of a bonfire. It’s good to keep the fire small so you can contain it and keep the flames under control.

“Always pay attention to advisories and signage. There are times of the year when it may not be safe to build a fire, whether it’s too dry, too windy, or both, it’s important to be aware of weather and environmental conditions.” — Bruce Loyd, agriculture and natural resources agent, WVU Extension

“Never leave your barbecue or campfire unattended. Keep a fire extinguisher or a bucket of water nearby in case of emergencies. Don't use gasoline or other flammable liquids to ignite or re-ignite the fire and use long-handled grilling tools to keep a safe distance from the heat.

“Propane, charcoal and wood pellet barbecue grills are for outdoor use only. Indoor use can cause fires or carbon monoxide poisoning. Place your grill outside of covered porches or enclosed areas, away from siding and deck railings, and out from under eaves and overhanging branches. Keep a three-foot safe zone around your grill. This will keep kids and pets safe.

“Keep backyard chimneys, outdoor fireplaces and fire pits at least 10 feet away from your home or anything that can burn. Turn off or put out fires before you leave the backyard.

“Fireworks that can be purchased are extremely dangerous. Using them puts you, your pets and your property at risk. Even something as simple as sparklers can reach 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit and cause third-degree burns. Instead, attend a commercial fireworks show in your area.” — Mark Lambert, Fire Service director, WVU Extension

West Virginia University experts can provide commentary, insights and opinions on various news topics. Search for an expert by name, title, area of expertise, or college/school/department in the Experts Database at WVU Today.



MEDIA CONTACT: Sydney Keener
Communications Specialist
WVU Extension

Call 1-855-WVU-NEWS for the latest West Virginia University news and information from WVUToday.