Wildfire Prevention and Safety Tips for Visitors
95% of wildfires are caused by people—and can be prevented by people, too. Do your part to keep Ruidoso safe by keeping these tips in mind before you leave home as well as on the trail to make for an enjoyable outdoor experience in Ruidoso.
In 2017, 63,546 human-caused wildfires burned nearly 5 million acres in the United States. Here are some tips on how to prevent wildfires and what to do if you're caught in the middle of one.
BURN BANS IN EFFECT?
Before you head out camping or backpacking, check fire danger levels and make sure there are no burn bans in effect.
Check to see where burn bans are in effect on state lands.
As of 8:00 AM, Tuesday, April 17, Fire Chief Cody Thetford has raised the fire restrictions in the Village of Ruidoso to Level II. This means that in addition to no campfires, fireworks or fire pits, no smoking will be allowed outside on public or private property - smoking must be within an enclosed vehicle or building (unless in areas specifically permitted by the Fire Marshal).
FIREWORKS BANNED ON PUBLIC LANDS
Let the night stars or wildflowers be your firework displays. It is illegal to set off fireworks on public lands, so when you hike or camp, leave the fireworks at home.
FIRE PREVENTION, RUIDOSO FIRE DANGER LEVELS AND REGULATIONS
Oftentimes campfires are prohibited during wildfire season, above a certain elevation, or near certain bodies of water.
Make sure to check and follow all regulations. Regulations change depending on the season because of fire danger. Check the Village of Ruidoso municipal website for current fire danger levels and regulations.
CAMPFIRE SAFETY: IF IT'S TOO HOT TO TOUCH, IT'S TOO HOT TO LEAVE
If you're in the backcountry, and especially during high-risk times, it's best to avoid having a campfire altogether. A camp stove is the best alternative when camping in the forest.
If you are in an area without a burn ban, make sure your campfire is built and put out responsibly.
1) Building a fire
Make sure a campfire is allowed. Check to see if there is a burn ban in or around Ruidoso.
Use existing fire-rings where it is safe to do so. Don’t build fire-rings in roads.
Make sure there are no overhanging tree branches near the fire.
If needed, scoop a small hole to mineral soil in the center of the pit. Set this material aside, and replace it in the ring when the fire is totally out before leaving the area.
Place rocks if available around pit. When finished, put rocks back where they were found.
Keep campfire rings small and use wood no bigger than the ring.
2) Enjoying a fire
Never leave a campfire unattended.
Keep tents and other burnable materials away from the fire.
3) Putting it out
Fires can often creep along the ground, slowly burning roots and dead leaves. Days later, the smoldering fire could break out into a real wildfire.
When leaving, make sure your fire is dead out. Very carefully feel all sticks and charred remains. Feel the coals and ashes. Make sure no roots are smoldering.
Drown the campfire with water and stir charred material.
If it's warm to touch, it's too hot to leave.
Carry a fire extinguisher in your vehicle and learn how to use it.
Don’t drive your vehicle onto dry grass or brush. hot exhaust pipes and mufflers can start fires that you won’t even see—until it’s too late!
Make sure your vehicle is properly maintained, with nothing dragging on the ground.
Practice safe towing. Dragging chains throws sparks. Use appropriate safety pins and hitch ball to secure chains.
IF CAUGHT IN A WILDFIRE
Don't try to outrun the blaze. Instead, look for a body of water such as a pond or river to crouch in.
If there is no water nearby, find a depressed, cleared area with little vegetation, lie low to the ground, and cover your body with wet clothing, a blanket, or soil. Stay low and covered until the fire passes.
Protect your lungs by breathing air closest to the ground, through a moist cloth, if possible, to avoid inhaling smoke.