bonfire surrounded with green grass field
Tips & Tricks

Responsible Enjoyment: 10 Campfire Safety Tips

If you’re going camping, it’s practically a law that you have a campfire and s’mores. There’s nothing better than sitting around a warm, crackling campfire and eating smashed and burned marshmallows with chocolate and graham crackers. Campfires may be fun, but they can also be extremely dangerous if not cared for properly. Here are ten campfire safety tips to keep in mind when you want to have a fire, even if you’re not camping.

bonfire surrounded with green grass field
Photo by Vlad Bagacian on

1. Use a designated fire pit or camping stove

Before you light a fire, look around for a designated fire pit. Sometimes, there will be a pit lined with rocks or a burn barrel. Sometimes, you’ll even find a fuelled fire pit ready and waiting to go. For examples of what to look out for, take a look at this page:

If you’re going camping in an area that doesn’t have established fire pits, you can spend time building your own with rocks, or you can bring along a camping stove.

The Solo Stove from Backyardville is an excellent choice. This camping stove has an innovative design that draws in air from the bottom to feed the fire while virtually eliminating smoke. Nobody likes to have their clothes and hair stinky from a campfire. The Solo Stove is also very portable and is one of the safest methods for responsibly enjoying a campfire, especially if there is no established fire pit.

2. Do your homework

It’s essential to check with the campground where you’re going to ensure they allow fires and burning. If you’re going deep out in the woods, make sure there are no structures or trees that could burn within 15 feet of your fire, and clear out any brush that could catch fire.

3. Check the weather

Before you have a fire, check out the forecast for your region. If it’s going to be hot, dry, and windy, it’s better to skip the fire. Those conditions are extremely hazardous and will significantly increase the risk of wildfires.

4. Only use matches

When you light a campfire, never use a flammable liquid like gasoline or lighter fluid. Only use matches. Make sure you don’t toss the match into the woods or grass when lighting the fire. Always discard the match in the fire itself so there’s no chance of it starting a fire somewhere else.

5. Keep water and a shovel handy

Two vital safety items for campfires are a bucket of water and a shovel. Keep these about 10 ft away from the fire so you can easily reach them. Then, if a fire does get out of hand, you’re prepared with water to douse it and a shovel to smother the flames.

6. Use native firewood

When you bring wood from other geographical regions, it can contain insects and bugs that could be invasive and damage the local ecosystem. Always use local firewood. You can gather it from around your campsite or buy some from a local supplier.

7. Keep a close eye

A campfire should never be left unattended. For safety, always keep at least one adult close by and ready to take action if needed. It’s crucial to have the blaze supervised at all times so it stays safely contained.

8. Only burn wood

Many campers think they’re doing a good thing by burning garbage instead of littering or leaving it behind, but doing so is actually very dangerous and bad for the environment. Instead, carry out any campsite trash and throw it away in a garbage can. Burning plastic is particularly dangerous, as it releases harmful gases into the air. Only use wood to fuel your campfire.

9. Keep kids, pets, and horseplay away from the fire

When you’re enjoying a campfire, it’s imperative to keep children and pets away from the fire. Supervise the area closely, and avoid any horseplay or rough activities too close to the fire. That’s how accidents happen!

10. Drown, stir, and feel

When it comes time to leave your campsite, or you’re ready to put out the fire, use the “drown, stir, feel” method. Drown the fire with water, stir the coals and ashes to smother them, and feel the area to see if it’s cool. If it’s too hot to touch, it’s too hot to leave. Stay at the campsite until you’re positive the fire is out and the coals are cool to the touch.

Enjoy Your Campfire Responsibly

It’s a universal truth: everybody loves sitting around a campfire, talking, and having fun. Campfires are one of the best parts of camping, but they can also be downright dangerous. That’s why it’s essential to keep those ten safety tips in mind. With those tips, you can safely enjoy the warmth and crackling blaze of a campfire and plenty of s’mores no matter where you are.

Rachael is a 31 year old mum to 10 year old Luke and 5 year old Oscar. She lives in England and writes about family life, crafts, recipes, parenting wins(and fails), as well as travel, days out, fashion and living the frugal lifestyle.

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