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An Australian Bushfire Reminds Us to be Safe with Campfires

by Liz Childers

In January, a bushwalker on an overnight hike got lost somewhere in Australia’s Alpine National Park. His solution was to climb to a high point and light a small fire in order to alert authorities.

What normally would not have been the worst of ideas, turned bad for two reasons. It is summer in Australia and the hiker was in a region experiencing very hot and dry weather. The other reason is that a helicopter rescued the man; as the craft got close to ground, the down draft of the propellers caused the fire to spread.

Fortunately, the fire was contained within three hours and only a space about the size of a tennis court was burned. As we in North America close in on our own summer season, this story brings up a few safety tips:

Before you go camping, always check to see if there are any fire restrictions on your campsite’s area. These are frequently in place in the summer due to dry conditions, which makes it easy for a fire to spread outside the intended campfire area.
See if restrictions apply to grills or other cooking equipment. In many areas, they can.
Always bring the proper camping gear with you on your trip. If this man had a GPS or compass with him, he never would have gotten lost. Even the most experienced hikers can take a wrong turn on a hike and end up lost, so go prepared.