It’s that time of year we have all been waiting for — the time of year that calls for long, blissful nights swapping stories around a crackling campfire under the summer stars. Whether you are roughing it on a camping trip, sipping drinks on the beach or roasting marshmallows in your backyard, be sure to take proper precautions to ensure everyone enjoys a safe night around the fire.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT SPOT
Select a location on level ground and clear any obstructions or flammable items from the area before starting the fire. Be sure to look above you to make sure there are no low-hanging branches that may fall into the fire and ignite or send sparks flying.
CHECK THE FIRE DANGER LEVEL
Many campsites will post a warning level indicating whether dry conditions can contribute to fast expanding fires. When a high-fire warning has been issued, it may be wise to avoid campfires altogether.
ENSURE WATER IS NEARBY
Have bottled water available or choose a campsite that is in close proximity to a water source so you can douse the flames if you need to.
USE A FIRE PIT RING
Many campsites have fire rings in place, which serves to keep the flames contained in a safe manner. The best place to build a fire is within an existing fire ring in a well-placed campsite. If there isn’t one, create your own barrier with rocks, stones and sand. Keep flammable material outside of a 10-foot diameter circle.
DON’T USE ACCELERANTS
Light wood or coals with matches or a lighter, or use a flint fire starter kit. Never douse the materials in lighter fluid or gasoline to get the blaze going.
If you are having a good old-fashioned marshmallow roast your kiddos, supervise them at all times and make sure they don’t play close to the flames. That goes for pets, too.
CHECK THE WEATHER
Whether you are planning your campfire ahead of time or gathering around the bonfire on whim, check the weather forecast to ensure you won’t have any surprises. Even the most gentle breeze can blow hot debris and sparks outside of the fire pit.
Monitor the fire for as long as it’s burning. Even a small breeze can cause the fire to spread quickly, so stay near until it dissipates or you extinguish it.
MAKE SURE THE FIRE IS OUT
Completely extinguish the fire before leaving. Move stones and spread out embers and ash so all the heat can dissipate, and don’t leave until the remains of the campfire are cool to the touch.