10 Fire Hooping Safety Tips For First Time Burners
Are you thinking about lighting up a fire hoop for the very first time? Then let’s take a few moments to talk about fire safety, shall we? I know, I know, it’s not a very sexy topic, but getting a burn scar may not end up being all that sexy either. I’ve got a couple minor ones myself so I know what I’m talking about, but fear not dear hooper! If you follow these 10 Fire Hooping Safety Tips you can easily avoid getting burned and have a blast fire hooping too.
Before You Light Up
1. Get Comfortable. When we get a brand new fire hoop, or one that’s simply new to us, our first inclination is to light it up – but don’t. Spend some time hooping with the fire hoop unlit and really getting used to what spinning that new hoop is like. The odds are high that it’s going to feel different than your other hoops. Those wicks can add some additional weight, the plastic you’re using may be stiffer – or a little more flexible than what you’re used to. You want to be really comfortable hooping with your unlit fire hoop before you ever set it aflame.
2. Check Your Hoop. Before you light up your fire hoop be sure to check it first. It’s something we do every single time. Make sure those nuts and bolts are still tight and secure, and if they’re not then tighten them up. Look for any fraying on your wicks you may want to trim off. If you’re using a fire hoop that can be collapsed make sure your hoop connection is still solid. It’s my experience that sometimes things loosen up and you really don’t want a burning wick flying somewhere just because it was fine a couple spins ago.
3. What To Wear. When it comes to non fire hooping and fabric choices, we’re usually just looking for clothes we can hoop in. We avoid those challenging fabrics that might be too slick to hold our hoop up. When we add fire to the mix, however, we do the exact same thing only we make absolutely sure those fabrics are natural like cotton. Why? Because a lot of unnatural fibers have a tendency to melt. Wool works well too. The general super easy rule of thumb is natural is good, unnatural is bad.
4. Take Care of Your Hair. While I must admit I have developed a certain affinity for the smell of burning hair over the years (my hair used to be down to my shoulders), in my casual hooper surveys of the years I’ve discovered that most people really don’t really want to set their hair on fire. Go figure! The best advice is to tie it up into a bun, paying extra attention to eliminating any stray pieces that can catch flame. There are those too that are big on wetting it down or simply covering it up with a bandana or beanie works too.
5. Know The Law. Just because there’s someone being paid to fire hoop at some event doesn’t mean you have license to light your fire hoop up there too. In fact, doing so can not only be a major party foul, on sooo many levels, it can also be illegal. We’ve seen events, festivals, beaches and more lose all fire privileges because some rogue fire hooper just wanted to burn it up without knowing the law. In most cases it’s highly likely you’re going to need a fire permit, a written fire plan on hand, and a paid fire professional watching it all happen – unless you’re doing it on your own private property like your backyard. Music festivals, parks and beaches often have very specific fire laws and restrictions so if you have any questions find out the law, including whether or not any burn bans are in effect in your area due to dry weather or high winds.
6. Get Some Gear. No matter where you’re lighting up you’ll need these fire safety items: A) A Flashlight or Headlamp. Why? It’s probably going to be night time. You’re going to be dipping your wicks into fuel and you’ll need to be able to see what you’re doing. B) Duvetyne or Damp Towels. Duvetyne is this awesome fire resistant and fire extinguishing material that you can use to put out fire. It rocks and it’s better than damp towels because your wicks stay dry and you can go ahead and light them right back up again if you want to. You just cover the wick to eliminate the oxygen and it goes out. Damp Towels are, however, just as effective and a whole lot easier to come by. C) First Aid Kit that includes burn cream and aloe vera. Our favorite burn cream is called Silvadene. It requires a prescription, but we know plenty of fire hoopers who’ve gotten one after telling their doctor that they’re playing with fire.
7. Be Prepared For a Fire. Before you light up I’d also recommend investing in a fire extinguisher. It’s really great to have for your peace of mind and just in case you do find yourself in some kind of situation that goes from bad to worse. You can get a small one online these days for less than $20 too, but remember this one very important thing. Fire extinguishers are to be used on things that catch fire, not people. The chemical material has to be painstakingly removed from burns and I’ve been told it hurts like really freakin bad.
8. Always Have a Fire Safety Person. In addition to your gear, you also want to be have a sober fire safety person with you to monitor everything. Do not light up alone. Your fire safety person will be there watching you and holding the duvetyne or damp towel. They’re ready to catch any problems as well as loudly letting you know if you’re getting too close to anyone or anything that may be ignitable. They’re there to keep other people out of your fire hooping space too.
9. Fuel. Now that you’ve got everything together, you’re ready for fuel. Your best bet is white gas like simple Coleman brand camping fuel or an equivalent. White gas burns hotter and shorter than other fuels which makes it ideal for fire hooping. You can also try Pure or Extra-Pure Lamp Oil, providing it doesn’t have any citronella in it. It doesn’t burn as hot and it burns longer, but trust me – white gas is going to burn long enough. The most common way to add fuel to your fire hooping wicks is to dip them in it. To make this happen you’re going to need to pour some fuel into something sturdy and deep enough to do so. Lots of people I know use airtight and watertight military ammo cans like this one. They’re great for storing fuel too. Make sure your fuel area is a non-smoking zone located at least 20 feet away from where you’ll be fire hooping too. Then once your wicks are wet with fuel, you’re going to need to spin them off first before lighting them. Why? You don’t want a little splash of lit fuel to go flying off your hoop, so do some fast vertical spins on your hand to remove the excess before you light them.
Your First Time Fire Hooping
10: Light It Up But Keep It Basic: When you’ve got that fire hoop lit for the first time, keep your fire hooping skills basic until you’ve done it a few times – no matter how good you are at regular hooping. Just resign yourself to the fact that all you’re going to be doing is hooping on your core and getting used to the experience. Why? I can pretty much guarantee that it is going to surprise you. In my independent, casual and random surveys of hoopers and fire hoopers over the years most of us are quite surprised by two key things: A) It’s going to be loud, and B) It’s going to get hot.
Fire makes sound when it spins and when you suddenly find yourself inside your own personal ring of fire and those flames are swooshing around you, it takes time to simply relax and get used to that. The sound can be disorienting. Fire is also incredibly hot. While that may sound like a no brainer, the ultimate in basic common sense, trust me – this will be different. A whole other level of deeper reality is about to set in that our beautiful brains and subconscious can’t adequately prepare for until it’s been experienced. In fact, when we’re feeling the heat for the first time this odd flight response can come out of nowhere. It’s like a primal cellular reaction to simply get away from it and many forget that we can simply drop that hot hoop and step away. So plan on taking it slow and easy and just enjoying the ride.
If you’re going to be fire hooping regularly consider taking an actual fire safety class. While these 10 Fire Hooping Safety Tips are good enough to get you started, they’re certainly not everything you need to know. Remember, fire hooping is a rush for a reason, but if you’re well prepared you’ll be good to go. Fire Hooping is one of the safest fire spinning toys you can use so burn it up and have fun.
Philo Hagen is the Co-founder and Managing Editor of Hooping.org. He’s been spinning things up online and off since April 2003. Co-Founder of the Bay Area Hoopers and LA Hoopers hoop groups, Philo has performed internationally and has won Hoopie Awards for Male Hooper of the Year and Video of the Year. He lives in Los Angeles, California, USA.