Camping is a great opportunity to connect with nature and disconnect from the real world, but it also comes with a lot of responsibility, especially when it comes to fire safety. A campfire is an essential part of camping in the great outdoors and it can provide warmth, light, a means to cook meals, and a place to gather, but it must be approached with caution and respect for the environment. In this guide, we’ll explore essential fire safety tips that every camper should know to ensure a safe and enjoyable outdoor experience. From selecting a suitable fire location to properly extinguishing the flames, these tips will help minimize risks, prevent accidents, and contribute to preserving the beauty of the great outdoors. Here are some important tips to keep in mind for a safe camping experience.
Check Local Regulations
Before starting a campfire, it’s important to check with local authorities or park management to find out about any fire restrictions, bans, or regulations you need to follow. Some national and state parks have strict rules in place and breaking them could result in hefty fines or legal consequences.
Choose a Safe Area
Most campsites will have a designated fire pit, however, if your camp doesn’t or you’re camping in the backcountry, you’ll want to choose a safe area. Choose a designated fire area at least 15 feet away from tents, bushes, trees, and other flammable materials.
Build a Fire Ring
If there isn’t a designated area to build a fire at your camp, you may need to build one. Create a fire ring using large rocks to contain the fire within a specific area and clear the area within the ring, removing debris and dried leaves. A fire ring will help keep the fire manageable and keep it from spreading beyond the fire pit.
Gather Firewood Carefully
When choosing firewood for your fire, you’ll need three kinds of materials – tinder, kindling, and fuel wood. Tinder is a material that catches fire easily but burns quickly. This is essential to get your fire started. Dried leaves, bark, moss, or paper make great tinder. Kindling are twigs and branches that help build the fire and fuel wood are big logs that keep your fire going. When choosing firewood use only dead wood that can be easily broken. Never cut live or fallen trees. Not only are they unlikely to burn, but you can damage the tree. Once you collect your firewood make sure to keep the pile a fair distance away from the fire to prevent accidental ignition.
Use a Safe Fire Starter
Use a safe fire starter to ignite the fire such as matches or a lighter and a dry form of tinder. Have patience when building your flame. Using accelerants like gasoline can be very dangerous and can quickly make the fire unmanageable and out of control.
Keep the Fire Manageable
Wildfires are a huge issue in many areas of the United States. When fueling your fire, it’s crucial to keep it small and manageable. A large fire can be harder to control and can quickly get out of hand. It’s important to make sure the flames never extend beyond the fire ring.
Supervise the Fire
Never leave a campfire unattended. It’s vital to always have a responsible adult present while the fire is going. Keep a bucket of water and a shovel nearby for extinguishing the fire if necessary.
Make Sure to Extinguish the Fire Properly
When leaving your campsite, always leave extra time to extinguish the fire properly as it can take longer than expected to fully put out. Sometimes you may think the fire is out but hot embers can reignite. When you’re done with the fire, pour water over the flames, stirring the ashes with a stick. Continue slowly adding water and stirring until the ashes are cool to the touch. After, feel the ashes with the back of your hand to ensure they are completely extinguished.
Regardless of how careful you are, accidents do happen. Make sure to have a fully-equipped first aid kit on hand in case someone becomes burned or injured. In addition, you should always keep a bucket of water and a shovel nearby in case the fire becomes unmanageable. You may also want to consider taking a Wilderness First Aid course to ensure you’re fully prepared for any situation.