Campfire Safety Tips For A Hassle-Free Camping Trip

No camping experience is complete without a campfire. Nothing beats the warmth, laughter, and bonding moments that come while gathered around the fire with the people we love. However, remember that a fire is still a fire no matter how pretty it looks. So, you should still know some basic campfire safety tips to ensure that your trip stays as stress-free as possible.

How to Choose the Right Campfire Spot

A poorly built, maintained, and extinguished campfire can be a real fire hazard. It affects not only you but the animals, land, and other campers as well.

As an outdoorsman, you must know how to find the right campfire spot to avoid risking the lives of others. Use this guide to make sure that you set your campfire in a safe location:

Check if the Campsite Allows Campfires

Some campsites prohibit building campfires. They usually don’t allow campers to dig a fire pit to help preserve archaeological sites. Other times, there might be a fire ban in place since your campsite is at high risk of fires.

This means that you should never assume that you can start a campfire at any campsite. If you’re unsure about the rules in your area, check with the local camp authorities first.

Take Note of Fire Danger Levels

If the campsite allows campfires, remember to never start a fire in windy or dry conditions. Most campsites have fire danger signs and alerts that notify if there’s a low, moderate, or high chance of fire.

Sometimes, especially if the fire danger is high, all it takes is some wind and ashes to start a wildfire. For example, dry and overgrown areas with high winds are more prone to wildfire than damp, temperate areas.

The amount of fuel or vegetation also impacts wildfire risk since it can cause a fire to burn longer. Other factors, such as the slope of the area and a history of fires, can affect wildfire risks as well.

Only Use Existing Fire Pits

Look for existing fire pits to build your campfire and avoid creating a new one. This can help minimize impacts on the area and lets camp authorities keep track of where campfires are being built.

But, if pits aren’t available, you can make one by clearing a 10-foot area and surrounding the pit with rocks. Never create a fire on grass.

Keep Flammable Objects Away From the Fire

Build your campfire at least 20 feet away from trees, bushes, shrubs, tent walls, and other flammable items. Take note of any low-hanging branches that can catch on fire. Plus, ensure that the fire pit is about a foot deep so the wood sits low and around large rocks.

Assess Wind Conditions

Evaluate the wind and its direction when deciding if you should start a campfire or not. Pick a location that’s well-protected from gusts and never start a fire if it’s excessively windy.

Free the Area of Brush

See to it that the surrounding area is clear before lighting a fire and starting a campfire. Make sure that it’s free of heavy fuels, such as brush, decaying leaves, dead pine needles, or logs.

What You Need to Set a Campfire

Fire Starter

This can be any highly-flammable item that can burn long enough before the others catch fire. The best ones are often common household items, including cotton soaked in petroleum jelly, a candle, or dryer lint.

Tinder

This is any small item that easily catches fire. It can range from pine needles, very thin twigs, and wood shavings.

Kindling

Look for a couple of sticks and twigs that are about an inch wide or smaller. Make sure to only pick up dead and dry wood and wood that is already on the ground.

Fuel

The largest wood you should burn should only be as thick as your wrist. Remember that this isn’t the time for a bonfire.

8 Campfire Safety Tips to Help Avoid Wildfires

Campfire Safety Tip # 1: Choose a Fire-Building Method

Choose your fire-building method ahead of time to avoid ending up in adverse conditions. It can also help make your fire as safe, comfortable, and efficient as possible.

For example, you can soak corks in alcohol to set up a fire as quickly as possible. Just make sure to use an airtight container when storing the corks to prevent the alcohol from leaking and evaporating. If you’re in wetter conditions, use the Swedish torch method which lets you create a fire on logs placed vertically.

Campfire Safety Tip # 2: Make Sure to Store Your Fuel Safely

Keep your wood under a tarp to keep it dry and never store your woodpile too close to the campfire. If you’re expecting heavy rains, stack your wood above the tarp to prevent water from seeping into the wood underneath.

Always use local wood. Never use your own wood to prevent bringing foreign insects or diseases to the local natural area.

Campfire Safety Tip # 3: Dispose of Your Fire Starters Responsibly

If you’re using a match for your campfire, throw it into the fire or douse it in water after use. Don’t just throw it into the woods because the tip can still be hot and start a new fire.

On the other hand, if using any type of fuel, use it responsibly and keep it away from the fire. Watch out for any leaks or other possible ways in which it could ignite.

Campfire Safety Tip # 4: Bigger Doesn’t Always Mean Better

Big fires use more fuel, burn much longer, and throw more sparks. In other words, they’re a lot more dangerous. They’re more difficult to maintain, too, and you must watch them closely since they could quickly go out of control.

Campfire Safety Tip # 5: Never Leave Fires Unattended

This is the most important rule of campfire safety. Unattended fires can spark and spread, easily causing damaging wildfires to nearby areas.

Additionally, never leave a fire burning at night since the sparks can pose risks to tents and other camping equipment. You or other campers can get burned or seriously injured once a campfire blaze occurs. Keep items far away and upwind of the fire to minimize the risk to surrounding camping equipment.

Campfire Safety Tip # 6: Keep a Safe Distance From the Fire

Loose clothes or hairs are hazardous while cooking or stoking the fire. Therefore, be mindful of what you wear and always tie your hair back.

Campfires are also one of the main causes of camping injuries in kids. Teach children about the dangers of fire and how to stop, drop, and roll if their clothes catch on fire.

Campfire Safety Tip # 7: Always Have Water Nearby

Always have water ready in the event the fire gets bigger than expected. Many even suggest keeping a big jug near the fire. Doing this will help prevent an excited fire from getting out of control.

Campfire Safety Tip # 8: Make Sure the Fire is Put Out Completely

Once you’re done with the campfire, make sure to put it out completely before leaving. Soak the coals and the ground immediately around. You can also have a bucket of dirt and sand nearby to smother the fire when nighttime comes. Dirt and sand eliminate oxygen, which fuels the fire, so the fire dies down quickly.

Bury the fire in sand and dirt and stir them into the embers to prevent the fire from reigniting. Wait until all signs of flame and smoke have disappeared before leaving the area.

How to Deal With Campfire Challenges

Campfires sometimes start by themselves. However, in some cases, weather conditions can make building a fire a big challenge. Here’s how you can deal with the two most common challenges:

Wind

If a light breeze begins blowing on a flame you just started building, build your fire behind a natural windbreak. This can be a boulder, your backpack, or even your body to block the wind. You can also cup your hand around the fire starter to offer more protection.

Moisture

Even the smallest amount of moisture can frustrate even the most experienced fire-builder. So, scout for dry wood and tinder in protected areas, like under alcoves or thick forest canopies. Consider looking in areas sheltered by downed trees as well.

How to Extinguish a Campfire Safely

Putting out a campfire prevents unnecessary wildfires from happening. Follow these steps to safely extinguish your campfire:

  1. As mentioned, bring enough water to put out your campfire. In case you already ran out of water, you can scoop from a nearby body of water.
  2. Let the wood burn completely into ash. It won’t be able to hold any internal heat.
  3. Use water to drench the fire. Continue pouring until any hissing stops and all ashes and embers are covered in water.
  4. Stir the ashes around with a stick. Leave the stick behind afterward.
  5. Hover your hand carefully over the fire to check for any heat. If it still feels hot, repeat steps 1 to 4 until the heat goes away.

Conclusion

Setting up a campfire is one of the highlights of any camping trip. Therefore, make sure to remember these campfire safety tips to ensure your next trip isn’t only fun but also safe. While camping is a chance to reconnect with nature, you must also be responsible enough to prevent unnecessary wildfires.

Happy shopping and be safe outdoors!

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