May is Outdoor Fire Safety Month in Illinois

SPRINGFIELD – Nearly nine out of 10 wildfires, nationally, are caused by humans and could have been prevented. With warmer weather upon us, Illinois residents and visitors are making plans to enjoy outdoor activities. The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) are asking people to enjoy summer safely by following summer fire safety tips.

“Enjoying outdoor activities is a great way to spend time with friends and family,” said IEMA Acting Director Alicia Tate-Nadeau. “Whether you are enjoying a campout in the backyard, visiting one of our many state parks, or exploring the great outdoors beyond our state borders, it is important to educate yourself about fire safety and properly plan for your time in the open woods.”

“Many times, camping and a campfire go hand-in-hand,” said IDNR Director Colleen Callahan. “For your safety and the protection of our natural resources, it is critical that campers follow state park campground regulations for grills and camp stoves, and continuously monitor fire conditions as weather conditions can change quickly and dramatically.”

Camping Fire and Burn Safety

Camping enthusiasts can prevent fire dangers with the following safety tips:

  • At campgrounds at state parks and other IDNR-managed sites, fires are allowed in stoves, grills or other designated areas only. Many sites do not allow ground fires of any kind. Please check with the campground host or site office for fire regulations.
  • Have a supply of water or fire extinguisher and shovel readily available before building your fire.
  • Small children should never build a fire, even with adult supervision.
  • Adults should always supervise children around fires.
  • Never use a flammable liquid (especially gasoline) to start a fire or on hot coals. Explosions can result.
  • When near campfires and grills, wear snug-fitting, tightly woven, or short-sleeved garments.
  • Pitch tents at least 15 feet upwind from grills and fire pits.
  • Never leave a fire unattended.
  • Before you leave your campsite, make sure coals are thoroughly extinguished before disposal.
  • If your fire gets out of control, note your location and call 9-1-1 for assistance.
  • Don’t forget to “Stop, Drop, and Roll” if any of your clothes catch on fire.
Wildfires can occur at any time of year and anywhere in the country, starting in the remote wilderness, in state or national parks or forests, or even in your backyard. Wildfires can be sparked from natural sources, such as lightning, or accidentally by humans via cigarettes, campfires or grills. Before any fire happens, make sure your home or business is resistant to catching fire. This can be accomplished by clearing away debris and other flammable materials and using fire-resistant materials for landscaping and construction.

“The National Weather Service will issue Red Flag Warnings when weather conditions, such as strong winds, low relative humidity and high temperatures, make for outdoor fire dangers,” said National Weather Service (NWS) Meteorologist Chris Miller. “During these dangerous times, the NWS urges everyone to use extreme caution because a simple spark can create a major fire.”

What You Should Know about Wildfires

  • Know what to do before, during and after a wildfire; 
  • Learn your evacuation routes;
  • Have emergency supplies in place at home, work and in the car;
  • Listen to local officials for instructions and plan to evacuate if advised;
  • Keep track of fires near your community or where you plan to vacation with https://fsapps.nwcg.gov/afm/index.php; and
  • If you evacuated an area due to a wildfire, wait for public officials to say it is safe before returning.
  • Learn more safety tips at www.ready.gov/wildfires.