Camping just isn’t camping without a fire! Roasting hot dogs and marshmallows is a must on every camping trip. The key to a good campfire is safety. Here are 8 Campfire Safety Tips to keep your camping trips full of great memories.
1. Know the Rules: In some areas you go camping in, campfires are not allowed. Even though it’s tempting to break the rules and start a fire, don’t. There is a reason why campfires are not allowed in the area. So make sure to call ahead to see if the park, campground or area your staying at allows campfires or not. You can call your local Forest Service station or visit the US Forest Service website for fire information.
2. Use Designated Fire Pits: If campfires are permitted in your campground, make sure to use the area that has been designated for one. Look for campfire pits, holes surrounded by rocks, etc. If a campfire area has not been designated and its permitted, go ahead and make one. Find an area that is clear of brush or debris. Next dig a wide enough and deep enough circle for your fire. Lastly, surround your circle with large rocks, big enough to keep the wood and kindling contained without it blowing or tumbling out of the campfire.
3. Clear Area of All Debris: Clean up the area around your campfire pit. Get rid of twigs, leaves, paper products or other flammable items within a 3 feet radius of your campfire. Also, any overhanging branches should be cut down.
4. Use the Right Wood: Using the right wood to start a campfire is key. Start by gathering small twigs, wood shavings and dry leaves or grass. These three items will help ignite the fire easily. NEVER USE FLAMMABLE LIQUIDS TO START A FIRE! After you have those three items, kindling or small sticks, an inch in diameter or less goes on next. Make sure your kindling is burning really well before adding the last kind of wood to your fire – the Fuel: larger pieces of dry wood. These larger pieces will burn for longer periods of time, keeping the fire nice and hot!
5. Don’t Over-Build: Campfires can easily get out of control fast. Keep your campfire within the fire pit borders and keep it small to avoid sparks. Sparks can easily turn into an unwanted forest fire.
6. Be Ready to Put It Out: Have a bucket of water and a shovel, or a fire extinguisher nearby just case the flames get out-of-control.
8. Douse, Dreg & Dig: Before leaving your camping area, make sure your campfire is completely out. Pouring a few buckets of water over the fire is not enough. Use your shovel to dreg up the fire to find any hot spots or embers that are still hot. Even though these embers seem small and unimportant, they can still start a forest fire. Make sure to pour more water on these hots spots and embers. Dirt can also help cool down these pieces. Lastly, keep turning the fire debris to make sure everything is cool and NEVER PUT FIRE ASH INTO TRASH RECEPTACLES.