Camping is a popular and fun way to enjoy the great outdoors. For families vacationing on a budget, camping provides an affordable alternative to costly resorts and hotels.
No camping trip is complete without spending some time around a campfire. But as fun as swapping stories around the campfire can be, campfires can also pose a safety risk. When building a campfire, campers can employ the following approach to ensure everyone enjoys a safe night around the fire.
• Choose the right spot. Select a location that is on level ground and clear any obstructions or flammable items from the area before starting the fire. Be sure to look above you to make sure there are no low-hanging branches that may fall into the fire and ignite, putting campers at risk of injury.
• Check the fire danger level. Many parks and campsites will post a warning level on signage indicating whether dry conditions can contribute to fast-expanding fires. When a high fire warning has been issued, it may be wise to avoid campfires altogether.
• Ensure water is nearby. Have bottled water available or choose a campsite that is in close proximity to a water source. This ensures you can douse the fire or cool coals if need be.
• Use existing fire pit rings. Many campsites have fire rings in place. This serves to keep the fire contained in a safe manner. The best place to build a fire is within an existing fire ring in a well-placed campsite. If there is no ring, create your own barrier with rocks, stones and sand. Keep flammable material outside of a 10-foot diameter circle.
• Stay close to the fire so long as it is burning. Never walk away from a lit fire. Even a small breeze can cause the fire to spread quickly, so stay near until it dissipates or you extinguish it.
• Do not use accelerants. Light wood or coals with matches or a lighter or use a flint fire starter kit. Never douse the materials in lighter fluid or gasoline to get the blaze going.
• Make sure the fire is out. When breaking down the campsite, completely extinguish the fire before leaving. Move stones and spread out embers and ash so that all heat can dissipate. Do not leave until the remains of the campfire are cool to the touch.
Campfires can be both fun and practical when camping out. But always keep safety in mind and exercise considerable caution when choosing where and when to light fires.