Everything You Need to Know About Campfire Safety

Man and son using campfire safety tips to roast marshmallows

The Ultimate List of Campfire Safety Tips

There’s nothing quite like the sound of a crackling campfire.

For most people, a campfire is much more than a source of warmth – it’s a bonding experience and beloved tradition. And a camping trip just wouldn’t be the same without gooey s’mores or spooky campfire stories!

Campfires have the ability to bring people together, but they can also be very dangerous if they’re not handled with proper safety precautions. A great trip can be quickly ruined if someone is injured or something catches fire.

To ensure your favorite camping tradition is enjoyable and safe, we’ve outlined everything you need to know about campfire safety – from choosing an appropriate site to effectively extinguishing a fire.

People partaking in campfire safety while making smores

Top 10 Tips for Campfire Safety

Campfire safety starts long before the fire gets roaring.

People are responsible for a large number of brush and forest fires, so it’s important that you do your part to stay fire safe.

Here are 10 of most important campfire safety tips to keep in mind:

  1. Whenever possible, use a designated ring or pit to build your fire.

  2. Clear the area of any dry leaves and sticks and ensure tents, campers, and other items are placed at a considerable distance from the fire.

  3. Check the weather forecast. A gust of wind could cause your fire to grow larger than anticipated or blow burning debris around the campsite.

  4. Keep extra wood upwind and away from the fire.

  5. Never use a flammable liquid to start your fire. Avoid gasoline, lighter fluid, and diesel fuel to prevent accidents and injuries.

  6. Keep your campfire small and contained. A suggested size is 2ft x 2ft x 2ft.

  7. Never leave the fire unattended.

  8. Keep a bucket of water and a shovel nearby in case of emergencies.

  9. Keep any flammable items far from the fire. This includes aerosol cans and pressurized containers.

  10. Always extinguish campfires before going to bed or leaving the area.

Campfire at campsite

How to Pick a Campfire Spot

Picking a suitable campfire spot is crucial to maintaining a safe fire and preventing wildfires.

Be sure to evaluate the site before starting a fire. If the area is brushy or extremely dry, you might want to avoid building a fire altogether. These types of conditions are perfect for igniting wildfires.

Another important thing to remember? Always check with the campground operator or local agency to make sure fires are permitted in the area.

If fires are allowed and conditions are safe, follow these tips to choose a campfire spot:

  • Look for an existing fire pit or ring. If you can’t find one, choose a site with a rock or dirt surface.

  • Avoid areas with fuel for your fire, like moss, logs, or decaying leaves.

  • Build your fire at least 15 feet away from trees, tents, chairs, or any other debris.

  • Select a site that’s sheltered from high winds.

  • Don’t forget to look up – find an area without any overhanging branches.

If you have any questions, contact your campground ranger. Fire safety is their top priority and rangers can help you determine whether a pit or site is suitable for a campfire. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!

Friends around a campfire using campfire safety tips to choose location

How to Build and Maintain Your Campfire

Everyone has their own unique method for building fires, but these tips will help you build a roaring and long-lasting campfire.

  • Clear a 10-foot diameter area and remove any pine needles, grass,
    or twigs so there’s only soil remaining.

  • Dig a pit roughly one-foot deep.

  • Circle the pit with rocks.

  • Start building your fire with small sticks and twigs and gradually
    work up to larger pieces of wood. When placing the large pieces of
    wood on the fire, point them inwards.

Gathering Wood

When it comes to wood, remember your camping etiquette. It’s always best to buy local wood from your campground so you don’t cause any damage to the natural environment.

If you forage for wood, choose only downed branches away from your site.

Man gathering wood for campfire

How to Setup and Light a Campfire

To burn a successful fire, you’ll need three types fuel: tinder (small twigs and dry leaves), kindling (small sticks), and larger pieces of firewood.

Start by gathering your tinder materials and place them in a bundle in the center of the fire pit.

Once the tinder is in place, gather your kindling and use a few pieces to create a teepee formation around the tinder. Be sure to leave an opening on one side so you can light the fire and allow air to enter.

Next, add a layer of firewood to create a larger teepee structure around the kindling. When the structure is in place, use a match or lighter to ignite the tinder.

The teepee structure will eventually collapse as the fire burns, and you can simply add more fuel logs to the fire to maintain it.

Man starting his campfire

How to Extinguish Your Campfire

The process of putting out a fire can take longer than you think, so be sure to leave yourself enough time. Set aside at least 20 minutes to prevent the possibility of leaving any smoldering ashes behind.

Never let a fire go out on its own. Instead, dump a bucket of water on it and thoroughly soak the entire pit. Once you’ve drenched the area, follow these steps:

  • Move the mixture of ashes and soil into the center of the pit and soak with water. Stir it with a stick or shovel to ensure all the ashes get wet.

  • If you don’t have water, cover the embers with dirt or sand until cool.

  • To determine if the fire is completely extinguished, carefully place your fingers into the fire pit. Ashes should be cool to the touch before you leave the site.

If you’re unsure whether the fire is extinguished, always remember Smokey Bear’s motto: “If it’s too hot to touch, it’s too hot to leave!”

Keeping Children Safe Around Campfires

Camping can be a blast with young kids, but it’s essential to take extra precautions to avoid potential injuries.

Did you know the majority of children’s camping-related injuries are caused by campfires?

The following tips will help you keep your little ones safe around a campfire.

  1. Explain the dangers. Toddlers don’t understand fire safety, so it’s a good idea to clearly explain basic rules and potential dangers.

  2. Always supervise kids around the fire. It may sound obvious, but it’s easy to forget once you arrive at your campsite.

  3. Don’t let your toddler roast their own marshmallows. It only takes a split second for a child to burn themselves, so it’s better to avoid this risk altogether.

  4. Ensure they keep their distance. Create a visible safe zone by marking an area away from the fire to show them how close they can get. 

Group of children roasting marshmallows around campfire

Build Your Perfect Campfire

Camping is the perfect way to spend quality time with friends or loved ones.

At BookYourSite.com, we want to help you find the perfect campsite for every gathering or getaway.

With thousands of campgrounds and RV parks across available across North America, you’ll find something to suit the whole family.

To enhance your experience, we offer a variety of deals – from discounts on your stay to free firewood. Plus, booking is a breeze! Simply make a reservation on our site or download our app.

So, what are you waiting for? Book today and start planning your next camping adventure!


This entry was posted in Campfires, Camping, Cooking, Kids.