Campfire Safety in the Great Outdoors
By Jennifer Cummings, M.Ed. – Positively Green
Camping is one of the most highly anticipated outdoor activities for families who enjoy a green lifestyle. Whether your family’s outing takes place with a tent or with a camper, a huge part of the camping experience is having a campfire. From being used for cooking dinner to providing a place for the family to meet and talk, the fire ring is one of most families’ favorite gathering places once the sun goes down on a day of camping. When enjoying that summer rite of passage, it’s important for families to take a few basic precautions in order to make sure the campfire experience is safe for everyone- and the environment.
Lighting a Campfire
When lighting a campfire it’s important to plan your fire for a place that is contained, free of brush and leaves, and is approved for use as a fire pit. Most campgrounds provide approved places for visitors to enjoy this nightly ritual, but sites that are more remote may not have ready-made fire rings in place. Before you set out for a remote camp site, check with the nearby ranger station or local fire warden to determine what the local regulations are for backwoods fires. In some instances you may find out that for weather-related or other reasons, fires are not allowed at all. It’s important to know that information before you head out on your trip.
If you do have a safe and approved place for a fire, you should purchase wood locally. Due to the increasing number of invasive insect and plant species many states prohibit wood being brought in from other states. To help campers stay in line with the law, many campgrounds allow visitors to purchase wood right on site; if not, local residents are often happy to make some extra money selling wood at road side stands. Since few campers use more than a few logs of wood in a night, so the cost is rarely prohibitive, and it makes sure your vacation destination stays free of unwelcome visitors.
When it’s Lite
Once you’ve got a great place set up and the wood to get a fire going, make sure you have access to water, just in case the fire gets out of hand. While few campgrounds have hoses available, having a couple of 2-liter bottles of water where your seating area is can be helpful in case of an emergency. Also, since fires should be put out before everyone heads off to bed, your emergency water supply can be used to put the fire to bed before you retire for the night.
When the fire’s lit, make sure to keep small children and pets under close supervision around the fire area. Loose clothing, long furry tails, and streaming hair are all potential sources of fire hazard, and by making sure that no one gets too close to the flames, it helps insure that everyone stays safe. If kids are cooking near the fire, make sure an adult is on hand to supervise the campfire chefs (that will also help to insure some of their campfire cooking is edible).
Family Fun Camping
Camping is a wonderful family activity that lends itself to many different opportunities for parents and children to connect on a meaningful level. Some of the best conversations often take place around the traditional campfire ring each night. By following some simple safety rules, you can make sure that your family’s campfire is the best it’s ever been! Have a great time as you sleep under the stars in a world that’s Positively Green!