Your Must-Know Guide to Campfire Safety

July 11, 2010 by  
Filed under Travel News & Tips

Summertime is upon us and camping with family and friends is an excellent way to spend quality time together. It also forces us step away from the hustle and bustle of every day life and get in touch with nature. It’s generally a more cost effective vacation option as well.

One of the best things I love about camping is a good campfire. Campfires are cozy and fun. There’s nothing like sitting around a campfire with a group of friends while warming yourself on a chilly night. Not to mention roasting marshmellows and making smores.

Children especially love helping to build a fire and gather around it. Campfire safety is crucial to enjoying the campfire and having a good time. Before building a campfire, consider the environment and read up on fire safety. Always follow any posted signs or fire safty guidelines provided at campsites. Here are some things to keep in mind when building and enjoying your campfire.

1. Choose a good spot. Don’t build a fire where vegetation hangs low or dry brush is nearby. Consider nesting birds and other wildlife when choosing your spot as well. If you’re staying at a campground with designated fire pits, be sure to build and contain your fire within those areas.

2. Clear a circle at least eight feet across. It should be bare earth with no vegetation. Make sure you are not destroying any animal nests or burrows when you do this. Dig your fire pit in the middle of this spot of bare earth.

3. Surround your fire pit (which should be at least twelve inches deep) with medium-sized stones. This will help contain the fire and keep children a safe distance away.

4. Watch small children at all times, and keep them at least six feet away from the fire once it is lit. They can help gather wood and kindling, though.

5. Try not to use lighter fluid if you can help it. A properly built fire will light with only a match. Use small, dry bits of wood, twigs, or pinecones for tinder. Then place small twigs over this for kindling. Gradually work up to larger pieces of wood. Then light the tinder from beneath. You can also get firestarter blocks or kits to help get the fire going.

To make sure you are not being destructive to the environment, do not cut or break branches off of trees or brush. Use only what you find on the ground.

6. If you do have lighter fluid, do not ever add lighter fluid to an actively burning fire. The flame can travel up the stream of lighter fluid you are pouring and into the container in your hand, causing it to explode.

7. Have a bucket of water handy before you light the fire.

8. To put the fire out, wait until it has burnt down to ash. Then pour water over it until it no longer sizzles. Stir it carefully with a long stick or shovel, taking care to expose all burning wood or smoldering coals to water.

9. Watch and tend your campfire carefully. Make sure it does not get too large. Only add a few larger pieces of wood at a time.

10. If it is very dry or windy, do not build a campfire.

Keeping these tips in mind will help keep your family safe. It will also help preserve the environment. Preventing forest fires and wildfires is crucial.

Presented by:
Sima Kimble

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