Whenever I think about my evening plans for my car camping trips they tend to revolve around a campfire. Whether I’m warming up, drinking, telling stories, or making s’mores, I know where I’ll be. Campfires are always fun but they can be dangerous if not handled properly. Since they are central to so many camping experiences, I thought it would be beneficial to go over some basic safety tips to help make sure that you or anyone new to camping helps protect the environment that we enjoy so much.
In recent years, our fire seasons have become increasingly more devastating so it is even more imperative that we do everything we can to reduce the spread of wildfires. For starters, let’s discuss your firewood and kindling. When you’re bringing firewood to your campsite, make sure that you get it locally to reduce the possibility of bringing invasive species along with you. If you’re collecting wood around your campsite to reduce your impact, use the 4 D’s – dead, down, distant, and dinky. You want to make sure that the wood your collecting is dead, already down on the ground (don’t try to chop it off of trees), distant from your campsite, and that it is dinky (AKA no larger than your forearm).
Below are some rules to help you practice building safe campfires. I know that some of these steps may seem like a no brainer, but it is always better to be safe than sorry and I recommend you share these rules with any newcomers you may meet.
- Verify that campfires are allowed in your area. Oftentimes, if there isn’t a pit it is likely that they may not be allowed in your area. Furthermore, during particularly dry times of the year some campground may prohibit fires even if they have the amenities required.
- If it is provided, use the pit. If you’re in a desolate area without a pit and fires are allowed, dig a fire pit in an open area and remove any debris that can catch and potentially spread a fire.
- Always keep water handy.
- Pay attention to the weather conditions. If it is particularly windy, this may carry embers into nearby brush so be cautious if wind is on the forecast.
- Never leave your fire unattended. Even if it is for a few minutes, this is never worth the risk! You never know what can happen while you are gone, all it takes is one small breeze to carry your embers into nearby brush.
- Always properly douse your fire to make sure it is out. Even if it looks like your fire has burned out, the coals can stay hot for quite some time and catch catch fire to anything that may fall in the pit. Once your down, douse your fire with water to make sure there is no risk of it catching ablaze again.
Hopefully these tips will help you feel like you can more actively play a part in preserving the amazing environment we get to experience. Let me know if you have anything fire safety tips or tricks by leaving them in the comments below!