Campfire Safety Tips

As fun or tempting as it may be to build the biggest campfire possible when camping, you do not need that much firepower to enjoy S’mores or smoke some weenies. When spending time outdoors, we need to remember to respect the powers of nature and to exercise caution when handling this powerful tool.

Are Campfires Allowed?

burn ban sign

The first thing you need to consider is the legality of fire. Is it allowed in at your campsite area? Look for posted signs or ask a park ranger. Just because there are fire rings does not mean it is permitted. Additionally, check to see if there is a burn ban in the area. Local governments may impose a ban due to dangerous drought conditions.  

Preparation

Man starting a fire at a campsite
Keep your fire small.

Whether your fire pit is in a designated area or one you have created on your own, there are some guidelines you need to follow to ensure that your fire pit is secure. Generally designated fire pit areas are already in the most ideal spots within the campsite. However, if you are creating your own hole from scratch, it is best to choose a flat area away from a hill. An escaped fire can move uphill fast.  Next, you need to find a clear spot away from dry grass, overhanging vegetation, and brush. These dry plants can burn much quicker than you think. Using a shovel, clear a 10-foot wide circle of bare dirt. Following this, you need to dig a hole 6 inches deep and 2 feet across. Use this dirt to create a fire ring around your new campfire site.

Using the Right Fuel

To build a campfire, clear a 10' area, dig a 6" deep and 2' wide hole, then use tinder to start it.
Tinder is classified as any substance that is highly flammable with a short burn time. This means it can be ignited using something as simple as a rod and striker.

First, we need to distinguish the difference between tinder and kindling. Tinder is classified as any substance that is highly flammable with a short burn time. This means it can be ignited using something as simple as a rod and striker. Kindling is similar to tinder, but the significant difference is that the materials are larger and meant to burn longer to allow a bigger piece of wood or fuel to catch. Using natural fire starters like Pitchwood can be a very time-consuming process and can take some time to master; however, a cheap and quick solution would be to use manmade starters like Fuel Disks. Remember, moisture is not your friend, and it is best to use the driest materials possible.

Keep Your Fire Small

For most cooking and leisure activities, a small controllable flame gets the job done.
For most cooking and leisure activities, a small controllable flame gets the job done.

For most cooking and leisure activities, you do not need a massive fire; a small controllable flame gets the job done. Larger fires pose higher risks to your personal and environmental safety. It is recommended to keep your flame no taller than one foot off the ground.

Extinguish

Extinguish your campfire 30 minutes before you break camp or go to bed every night. Never let the fire burn itself out. This can be dangerous because embers will radiate heat for hours that could potentially rekindle the campfire even after the fire is thought to be out. The safe way to completely extinguish a fire is to pour water on the embers and then covering with dirt.

At the end of the day, it is our responsibility to take care of the campground and leave it better than before. Not every outing requires a campfire, but if you are going to build one, follow these campfire safety tips to prevent harm to others and stopping forest fires.

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