Whether you are camping this weekend, at the cottage or just spending it at home it is always a good idea to be educated when it comes to campfire safety. Knowing how to pick a spot, how to build and prepare your pit, and extinguish your campfire are key. Here are some tips to keep everyone safe around the campfire.
Picking your spot
When picking a spot, do so in enough daylight that you are able to check over the entire campsite/ area. Be sure to never build a fire in dry conditions. Look for a level site with enough room for everyone to spread out around the fire safely. If at a campground, use the existing fire ring or pit and if there is not one on your campsite check to make sure campfires are not prohibited. If pits are allowed, look for a site that is at least fifteen feet away from tent walls, shrubs, trees or other flammable objects. Also beware of low-hanging branches overhead.
Building your pit
- Choose a spot that is downwind and protected from wind gusts, and is at least 15 feet from your tent and gear.
- Clear a 10-foot diameter area around your campfire. Remove any grass, twigs, leaves and firewood. Make sure that there is no flammable object hanging over head such as tree limbs.
- Dig a pit in the dirt, about a foot deep.
- Circle the pit with rocks.
- Fill the pit with small pieces of dry wood; never rip branches from living trees.
- Place any unused firewood upwind and away from the fire.
- Keep a bucket of water close by as well as a shovel.
- Once you have your fire going, add larger pieces of dry wood to keep it burning steadily.
- Keep your fire to a manageable size.
- Make sure pets and children are supervised when near the fire.
- Never leave your fire unattended.
- When you are ready to put your fire out for the night, allow the wood to burn completely to ash if possible.
- Pour lots of water on the fire to drown all embers.
- Make sure that any “hissing” sound has stopped before you walk away.
- Stir the campfire ashes and embers with a shovel.
- If you do not have water you can use dirt. Mix sand or dirt with the embers and continue mixing until all materials are cool. Do not bury the fire, this will cause the fire to smoulder and could catch near by roots on fire. This can cause a wildfire.
Remember: If its too hot to touch, it is too hot to leave.