As an experienced firefighter (and someone who has been around plenty of campfires), I’ve learned a thing or two about campfire safety. Whether you’re a seasoned camper or a beginner, understanding how to safely build and manage a campfire is so important.
Here are my top campfire safety tips to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience in the great outdoors.
5 Campfire Safety Tips
Choose the Right Location
Always build your fire pit in an open area. Make sure it is at least fifteen feet away from:
- Overhanging branches
- Dry grass
- Any other materials that could easily catch fire
If available, use a pre-existing fire ring or circle the pit with rocks to help contain the flames and stray embers.
Before you start a fire, clear the area around the pit of any debris or materials that might catch fire. Use only small pieces of wood that fit within your fire pit or ring. Larger logs may seem appealing, but they can create unpredictable flames and embers. Remember, the key is control and containment.
Keep Water and Tools Handy
Always have a bucket of water, a shovel, or sand nearby before you begin. These tools are essential for fire extinguishing if the need arises. It’s better to be over-prepared than underprepared when dealing with fire.
Never Leave a Campfire Unattended
This is a cardinal rule in camp fire safety. Even a small breeze can cause sparks to fly out of your fire pit and ignite nearby foliage. If you have to leave the site, even for a short period, extinguish the fire completely.
Extinguishing the Fire Properly
When it’s time to put out the fire, don’t just leave it to die out on its own. Pour water on the fire, stir the ashes, and apply more water. Repeat this process until the hissing sound stops to ensure you fully put out the fire.
Make sure you and your group are familiar with the “Stop, Drop, and Roll” technique in case someone’s clothing catches fire.