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Campfire Safety Tips

By Janelle Smith, Recreation.gov

This campfire is encircled by a fire ring.  (Dot Shiva, Share the Experience)
This campfire is encircled by a fire ring. (Dot Shiva, Share the Experience)

Be aware, prepare and douse the flames!

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The keys for staying fire safe outdoors is to prepare for whatever conditions you may encounter, be aware of your surroundings and build and extinguish campfires properly. In some cases campfires may not be allowed. It is very important to check with the local area to determine if there are fire restrictions in place.

Some fires have natural causes, but people cause an overwhelming number of brush, grass and forest fires. Most of these fires are accidental and are due to the careless disposal of hot embers, ash or cigarettes. Do your part to stay fire safe!

"Only You Can Prevent Wildfires," Smokey Bear

Four Tips for Campfire Safety

  1. Pick Your Spot Wisely: Use existing fire circles or pits if available. Do not build a fire in dry or windy conditions, especially if there are fire restrictions in place (check with local authorities). Build fires at least 15 feet away from tent walls, shrubs, or other flammable materials.
  2. Prepare Your Pit: Choose a spot for your campfire that is downwind from your tent and gear, and protected from wind gusts. Clear a 10-foot-wide diameter area around your site, and make sure there are no limbs or branches hanging over your pit. Always circle the pit with rocks, or use an existing fire ring.
  3. Build A Campfire: Once you have a prepared pit, you are ready to build the campfire. It is recommended to use three types of wood. Tinder, which is made of small twigs, dry leaves or grass, will get the fire started initially. Kindling, consisting of twigs smaller than one inch around, will help to light the larger pieces of wood. Fuel—the large pieces of wood—will provide the heat and sustained flames once the tinder and kindling are consumed.
  4. This is the most important step! EXTINGUISH THE FIRE: Campers need to properly maintain and extinguish campfires when going to bed or leaving the area. If possible, let the campfire burn down to ashes. Pour water on the fire to drown all embers, not just the red ones. Once this is done, stir everything in the pit with a shovel and test for heat with the back of your hand.

Smokey Bear Campfire Safety Message

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Help Prevent Wildfires:

  1. As many as 90% of wildland fires in the U.S. are caused by humans (NPS.gov)
  2. Unattended campfires are a leading cause of human-caused wildfires

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