Tips for Fire Safety When Camping

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April 18, 2022
Edward Smith

Preventing Fire Accidents and Burn Injuries While Camping

As the weather warms up and Memorial Day weekend inches closer, most of us are turning to the great outdoors. Camping is a memorable activity to enjoy with friends and family. The best part of camping is listening to the hiss of a glowing campfire, roasting s’mores, and telling stories under the stars. However, if a campfire is not correctly built, maintained, and extinguished, it can be dangerous to everyone around it. So, before you roll up your sleeping bags and load up your coolers, it is important to follow some safety tips to prevent fire accidents and burn injuries.

Know the Campground Rules

Make sure you understand the rules and regulations of the campground where you plan to build a fire. Rules may change, and a campsite that allowed campfires last year may have a temporary ban if there is a risk of wildfires. Check the ranger’s station for current campfire rules and pay attention to posted signs in the area.

Use the Fire Pit

Most campsites have a fire pit. If one is provided, it is the only location you should build a fire. If you are in an area where a fire pit is not provided but campfires are allowed, create a fire pit in a spot downwind from your tent and away from overhanging branches or other flammable materials that can potentially catch on fire. Clear a 10-foot-wide diameter area around the pit and circle it with rocks.

Build a Safe Campfire

You can start building a safe campfire when your fire pit is in place. First, use dried grass or leaves that will easily catch fire, then add small twigs and sticks to the pile. Start your fire with a match and completely extinguish it before throwing it away. Never use gas, lighter fluid, kerosene, or flammable liquids to start a campfire. As the fire builds, you can add bigger pieces of wood. The wood will keep the fire burning for a long time and provide heat. Remember that your fire does not have to be big to produce heat. Even a small fire will produce plenty for warmth and cooking.

Keep Water or Shovel Nearby

Always have a bucket of water or a shovel handy. You can use the water to put out any fly-away flames and the shovel to throw dirt on the flames that may jump the area of your fire ring. It’s also wise to keep the ground outside your fire pit soaked with water, so if a stray ember flies outside of your fire pit, it won’t gain any traction.

Listen to the Wind

A sudden gust of wind can spread your campfire instantly. To ensure a strong breeze doesn’t create a forest fire, keep flammable items, including your tent and any unused wood, at least 15 feet away from the fire.

Keep Kids and Pets Away from the Fire

Campfires are the leading cause of injuries in the United States for children. Do not allow children or pets near the campfire unless they are sitting on an adult’s lap. Teach your kids about the danger of fire and how to stop, drop, and roll if their clothes catch on fire.

Don’t Leave Your Campfire Unattended

You should never leave a campfire unattended, even for one minute. Since a small breeze can spread fire easily, someone should be monitoring the campfire at all times. If you are leaving the fire to take a quick hike, the fire should be completely extinguished. You can always restart a fire when you return.

Put the Campfire Out Properly

This is the most important step! When you are done with your fire, extinguish it properly. If possible, let the fire burn down to ashes. Throw water on the fire, stir the ashes with a stick, then pour more water on it. Bigger wood will be more difficult to extinguish than smaller ones, so make sure they are soaked with water. Move the stones around the fire pit to check for burning embers. Do not bury coals from the fire because they can smolder and start to burn again. Once the fire is completely out, you are safe to leave the area.

Watch the YouTube video below to learn more about campfire safety.

Sacramento Burn Injury Lawyer

I’m Ed Smith, a burn injury attorney in Sacramento. Serious burn injuries can be excruciating and life-threatening. If you or a family member has suffered devastating burn injuries in an accident due to negligence, call our skilled Sacramento Burn Injury Attorneys at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400 for free and friendly case advice.

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Photo by Leon Contreras on Unsplash

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