Hey campers and welcome to my post where we look at my 5 campfire safety tips to keep everyone burn free this year. Campfires are one of the most enjoyable parts of a camping trips providing warmth, somewhere to cook as well as a central congregation point for general socialising.
However, as we are also aware, fires can be dangerous with more that a few camping injuries caused by burns or cuts during preparation, lighting or walking around a fire. So for those of you who like to get out and sit around a good fire, I have some tips for you to help ensure that you can enjoy it all as safely as possible.
1. Check local rules and conditions
In most cases, any campfire you light will be regulated by local conditions and regulations. For example, where I live there is a big sign that highlights the local fire ‘rating’. This can range from ratings such as low, moderate and up to severe, extreme, or catastrophic.
These are generally determined by a number of factors such as:
- Dryness of local bushland (i.e. how much rain we have had)
- Remoteness of location (i.e. how long it will take emergency services to get there)
- Daytime temperatures
So before you head out check the current fire rating for you area and what it means in regards to fires. And again as an example – severe, extreme, or catastrophic fire ratings mean that fires cannot be lit in open areas. And of course, if there are enough factors involved, a total fire ban may indeed be in place.
Of course you should also check with the managers of your campgrounds to ensure that they actually allow fires in the first place as well.
2. Choose your location carefully
Once you get to your campsite and are ready to light your fire, the next thing to consider is its location. In many cases, camp grounds or sites will have a designated fire pit. However, if not, consider the following:
- Ensure that the fire is at least 5 metres (16ft) away from tents, power supplies, vehicles etc.
- Clear any loose brush or grasses away from where you plan to light your fire
- Check for other hazards such as power lines or fuel storage etc.
Alternatively, if there is no real good area to light a fire on the ground, then maybe take your own metal fire pit with you as well – some campsites only allow fires in these to protect the ground too.
3. It’s not a bonfire
The problem that many of use mere males tend to have in life is that we tend to think that the bigger something is, the better. However, this is definitely not the case when it comes to the humble campfire. Always remember that you only need the fire to be just big enough for your cooking and warming needs.
By all means keep it running and burning strongly, however there is no need to throw everything on it so that it becomes unmanageable as larger fires have a habit of getting away from us should the wind get up.
And whilst we are at it, only use dead, dry wood on the fire as well. This way it will burn well meaning you don’t need to overload it just to get the amount of heat required.
4. Do not leave it unattended
This one should go without saying however it is one of the most common causes of accidents and incidents around a campfire. And by unattended I mean by an adult as many an accident has occurred when children are left around the fire whilst their parents are preoccupied around the campsite.
Another obvious reason here of course is that if the fire does spark out to the ground, a tree or into the campsite, I can be extinguished quickly before anything worse can happen.
5. Put it out at bedtime
One of the worst accidents I have seen when camping is a child standing on the ashes of last night’s fire and burning their foot on a hidden coal under the surface. In fact fires can look like they are out but actually burn underneath for quite a while so my final tip is to ensure that you fully extinguish it before you go to bed.
This means fully drenching it with water until it is completely out so that it not only reduces the risk of burns to children as above but also so that there are no flareups in the night. This way if the wind does pick up, there is no chance of some wood suddenly re-igniting from coals and getting out of hand.
And as per tip 4 above, this is also important should you leave the campsite for any reason throughout the day as well.
So there you have it, my 5 tips for those looking get out and enjoy a good campfire this year. I hope it has been helpful and as always, let me know of your experiences here.
Have you tried anything else that has worked well, or not so well for you – or of course have a different opinion than above? If so, please comment below and we can have a chat.