While campfires can bring warmth and joy to your camping trip, they can also be dangerous. Campfires are the main cause of camping injuries among children and the chief culprit for unintentional forest fires. Keep these campfire safety tips in mind during your next camping trip to protect yourself and Mother Nature.
- Check the weather forecast. Never start a campfire on a windy day. A sudden gust of wind could blow sparks or burning debris onto flammable surfaces. This can result in burns, undesired fires or worse – a wildfire.
- Fireproof the campfire surroundings:
- Choose a burning site that’s not under overhanging limbs or power lines.
- The pit must also be 10 or more feet away from vegetation, buildings, vehicles, or equipment such as tents, chairs, aerosol cans, and other flammable items.
- Clear the grass, dry leaves, sticks, garbage, and other debris from around the pit.
- Use only designated rings or pits, which should be on gravel or dirt, to light your fire.
- If the fire pit has no metal ring, put rocks around it. This ensures the fire doesn’t spread beyond the borders of the fire pit.
- Keep your campfire small, about two-three feet in diameter and no more than three feet high.
- Start the fire safely. Use dry twigs and small sticks to build a fire and progressively add larger sticks. Put the largest pieces of wood last, pointing them toward the center of the fire. Warning: never attempt to ignite a fire with flammable liquids, such as gasoline, diesel fuel, and lighter fluid to prevent burn injuries.
- Stack extra wood upwind at a safe distance from the campfire to ensure sparks don’t reach your woodpile. Gather enough wood to avoid leaving your campsite to restock.
- Supervise children and pets. Always keep an eye on children or pets and don’t allow them to play near the fire or sit too close to the fire. Teach kids the “stop, drop and roll” technique in case their clothing catches fire.
- Never leave the fire unattended. A small breeze could spread sparks nearby and start a fire. Make sure a responsible adult is monitoring the campfire at all times. Keep a fire extinguisher at hand to be ready to put the fire out completely if necessary.
- Extinguish the fire safely. After you’re done with the fire, put it out completely with water or sand. Coals can remain hot for up to 24 hours if they’re not cooled off properly. To check that they’re out, stir the ashes and embers until it’s clear that they have all been cooled. Don’t bury coals and embers as doing so can keep them hot.
Remember that you can always contact your campground ranger for any questions that you may have. Campfire safety is their top priority and they can make sure that the pit is ready to use. For professional fire damage restoration, contact your local PuroClean office.