Returning from holiday came as quite a shock. The moment we stepped off the plane the heavens opened and the rain seemingly, has not stopped since. The temperature in the UK at a miserly 16⁰C was 20⁰ less than when we left Greece.
How the islanders in Zante would have loved the downpour. Temperatures whilst I was there were regularly in the high 30’s Centigrade and seemingly self combusting fires were a regular occurrence in the hills surrounding the resort.
Special planes with water buckets scooped water from the sea to douse the flames. Not after dark apparently as this was banned after a scuba diver was accidentally picked up and dumped on the fire – or so the locals claimed.
I came to appreciate how easily a fire can start when sunning on the beach one day. I had left my cigs and lighter on a table covered by a towel. Without warning there was a loud bang and the towel flew off. The disposable lighter had exploded in the heat despite being out of direct sunlight. If you read the small print or does say keep out of direct sunlight and below 49⁰C but clearly the combination of temperature and pressure make these things potentially dangerous.
When our much awaited scorching summer finally comes you should also take extra care if venturing into the great outdoors to minimise the fire risk. As we all tend to head for the most picturesque spots a fire would destroy that amenity for years to come. Top tips from the professionals include:
Never throw cigarette ends out of car window, particularly in wooded areas and arable farmland – they can and do start fires that ruin surrounding countryside.
If you are having a picnic don’t leave bottles or glass in woodlands. Sunlight shining through glass intensifies the Sun’s rays and can start a fire long after you have left the scene. Take them and all rubbish home or put them in a waste or recycling bin.
If you are lighting a fire outdoors, say when camping, it should be downwind, at least 10 metres from the tent. Clear dry vegetation and leaves to form a circle of bare earth around the fire.
A pyramid type fire stack that will collapse inwards while burning is best. Don’t leave a fire unattended and make sure that fires are fully extinguished after use. Frankly it is safer to use a gas camping stove.
If a fire should break out and you have no means to combat it call the fire and rescue service and give the exact location. You can buy fire beaters which although old technology are very effective, as witnessed by the army of local farmers and volunteers I saw beating out the flames on the Zante hillside. You can also invest in a fire extinguisher to carry in the car which you can also use on a small cooking fire. An ABC Dry Powder or ABF Foam will do the job.