I love campfires. Love watching the flames flicker. Multiple little sparks of fire leaping upwards against the dark night sky. Fire is a guilty pleasure of mine.

We all know fire is also a great risk. From time to time, little fires turn into huge life-threatening wildfires.

Building a single small campfire in the woods for just one family is unlikely to cause an out of control wildfire – if the family takes proper precautions. Even if the single campfire burns in a dense dry forest that has not had a fire in the last 100 years. If we are careful, we can stay safe.

But what if we put 100 families’ campfires together in one gigantic bonfire deep in the same thick dry forest? The odds increase enormously – one of the sparks from the fire, carried by the wind, will create an out of control wildfire.

The same principles preventing raging wildfires can be used to control a raging pandemic. Mask wearing and washing our hands are the careful rules we follow with our own little campfire. We make sure an errant spark flickering, carried by the wind, doesn’t accidentally burn the forest down and endanger the lives of others.

Physical distancing means that we don’t combine fires close together in the deep woods, creating a bonfire 100 times the size of a single family’s campfire. That many fires so close together almost certainly ensures a beautiful spark against the dark evening sky will be carried by the wind into waiting dry tinder. Social distancing works to save lives.

We can control the fire.

Most people infect no one with the coronavirus. Or just infect members of their family. The fire does not get out of control. It is the super-spreading events that create the pandemic wildfire.

The key to making a virus not spread is stopping super-spreader events. In a super-spreading event, a single infected person is able to broadcast the disease to many people at a single time instead of infecting just one person in their own home. Here are some examples of super-spreading events.

If I unknowingly am infected, go to church, packed in with 500 people – I potentially become a broadcaster at a super-spreader event. I go to a big neighborhood backyard barbecue where it is a point of pride not to wear a mask – I potentially become a broadcaster at a super-spreader event.

I go to a packed bar even though I unknowingly carry the coronavirus, and I might cause a super-spreader event. Or I decide to go into the office while I am sick because a bug can’t stop me.

It is the super-spreader environments that make any virus dangerous, turning a moderate health risk into an epidemic. Stop the super-spreaders and we stop going viral.

Do your part. Wear a mask and wash your hands so your single campfire stays safe. Don’t go to potential super-spreading events, potentially creating a massive bonfire.

Florida can get back to normal if we wash our hands, wear a mask and minimize super-spreading events. Aren’t we ready to be over this virus?

Most countries stopped the out of control wildfire. Why not us?

Share your thoughts.

David Dunn-Rankin is CEO of D-R Media, which owns the Highlands News-Sun and the Highlands Sun, as well as newspapers in Lake, Polk and Sumter counties. He can be reached at David@D-R.Media .^p