There’s nothing better than a hot summer day followed by a cool summer night around a campfire. Roasting marshmallows, singing songs, telling ghost stories and gazing into those hypnotizing flames!
Campfires can be a lot of fun, but they can also be dangerous and cause severe damage if they get out of control. Take time to familiarize yourself with the campfire safety tips provided, and learn how to have the proper precautions in place to protect you, your family and your friends.
Why campfire safety is important
A campfire can go from fun to dangerous in a matter of seconds. The following are a few reasons why it’s critical to stay safe around a campfire:
- To protect people from burns
- To protect people from smoke inhalation
- To prevent fires from damaging nearby property
- To prevent wildfires in forests or fields – most wildfires are caused by humans!
- To prevent death of wildlife and people
Now it’s time to learn about the important safety tips.
Campfire safety tip #1: Check the local fire danger rating
Most municipalities across Canada have a fire danger rating system in place, with a simple graphic to indicate when conditions are safe for a campfire. The system is usually colour-coded, with an arrow that can point to the danger rating level. For example, green indicates safe, red means there is a fire ban. Orange and yellow levels fall in between. When you enter a vacation area, check the sign to see if fires are allowed. You can also look up the fire danger rating online, ahead of time.
Campfire safety tip #2: Choose your campfire spot carefully
Don’t just light a fire in the first spot you find, choose your spot carefully. If you’re staying at a campground, familiarize yourself with the campfire rules of the campground you’re staying at. If you’re at a cottage, check online for any campfire restrictions in your area. If you have the green light, here’s how you can find the perfect campfire spot:
- If there is an existing fire pit, use it!
- If there is no fire pit available, find a spot to build your fire on flat bare rock or bare dirt.
- Avoid areas too close to a forest or dry grass.
- Find a location close to a water source that is sheltered from the wind.
- Ensure your campfire is several metres away from any combustible materials such as propane.
Campfire safety tip #3: Set up your fire pit properly
Once you’ve found the perfect spot, it’s time to set up the fire pit. Start by clearing the area of any pine needles, grass, dry leaves and twigs. You should clear an area of about two metres. If available, gather rocks to encircle the fire pit.
Campfire safety tip #4: Build your fire safely
Start your fire with kindling such as twigs and dried leaves. Start the fire with matches or a lighter. Don’t use lighter fluid or gasoline. Once you get a small flame going, slowly add bigger twigs and firewood. If it’s your first time starting a campfire, be patient! It might take a few tries before you get it going.
It’s best to keep your campfire on the smaller side. We recommend a maximum of one metre high and one metre wide. A larger fire might be tempting, but it’s much harder to control. There are other advantages of smaller fires: it’s easier to cook on a smaller fire, and you can avoid ruining your cooking tools.
Always have a bucket of water or other extinguishing material close by and ready in case you need it.
Campfire safety tip #5: Don’t walk away from your campfire!
It’s important to stay close to your campfire. There should always be someone monitoring the fire to make sure it doesn’t get out of control. Remember: you are responsible for your campfire!
Campfire safety tip #6: Extinguish your fire when it’s done
Once all the marshmallows are roasted and you’ve run out of ghost stories, it’s time for bed! Before crawling into your cozy bed, make sure your fire is fully extinguished by following these steps:
- Pour water over your fire
- Stir the ashes with a stick
- Pour more water over the fire
- Repeat until the ashes no longer hiss, there are no embers burning and no smoke comes from the ashes
Protect yourself with the right insurance
Whether you’re enjoying a campfire at the cottage, while camping or in your backyard, make sure you’re protected with the right insurance! Home insurance, cottage insurance and travel insurance are all things you might need for the summer months.
BrokerLink’s insurance advisors can help you find the right insurance at a great price. Contact us today to make sure you have the coverage you need.
FAQs on campfire safety tips
Is it ok if I just leave my campfire smoldering?
It’s important to make sure your fire is out completely before walking away for the night. Pour water over the flames until no smoke comes from the ashes and there are no more glowing embers. Taking this precaution will keep everyone as safe as possible.
What’s the ideal size (dimensions) for a campfire?
We recommend you keep your fire a maximum of one metre high and one metre wide. Anything larger will be more difficult to control.
What do I do if a piece of clothing catches fire in a campfire?
Remember: Stop, drop and roll. If any item of clothing has caught on fire, stop moving. This will prevent fanning the flames. Drop to the ground and cover your face with your hands. Finally, roll on the ground to put out the fire. If there are injuries, call 911.