Ten Tips for a Safe Campfire -- from our Trauma Team

  1. Use a safe location. If there is a designated fire ring or fire pit be sure to use it. Stay at least 10-15 feet away from anything that is combustible. Avoid areas with overhanging limbs and power lines.
  2. Check the weather. Avoid starting a fire if it is windy or it is extremely dry. Always check if there are any burn bans or red flag warnings.
  3. Be careful with kids and pets. Keep children and pets away from the fire and never leave them unattended while having a campfire. Campfires are the leading cause of camping injuries in children. Explain to them how to be safe around fires. Teach them never to play with fire. Remind them not to run or play near the fire.
  4. Consider your clothing. Avoid wearing puffy coats as sparks can burn holes completely through. Consider your footwear. If hot coals happen to fall outside the pit, it is important to be wearing shoes to protect from burns. Avoid putting your feet up as the soles of the shoes can melt or burn.
  5. Never leave a fire unattended. Be sure to never leave a fire unattended. A small breeze can cause the fire to spread. Even if it will be just for a short time, extinguish the fire and you can restart it when you return.
  6. Keep water close by. Keep a large bucket of water or a water hose close by in case of emergencies. It is best if you keep the area 2-3 feet around the fire watered down so that if there is a stray ember that leaves the pit, it does not start another fire. Also keeping a shovel close by can be helpful if you need to put dirt or sand on the fire to keep it from spreading.
  7. Mind the match. After starting the fire, place the match directly into the fire or into a bucket of water.
  8. Put the fire out well every time. Never allow a fire to continue to burn. Completely saturate the logs with water. Never bury coals as they will remain hot and likely rekindle. Do not leave the fire until it is cold. Where there is smoke, there is a potential for fire.
  9. Only burn wood. Avoid using accelerants, such as aerosol cans, pressurized cans, glass, or aluminum cans to prevent explosions or harmful fumes.
  10. Avoid Over use of Alcohol. Remember that too much alcohol can cloud judgement, clumsiness and careless behavior.