The Essential Guide to Campfire Safety: Do's and Don'ts

❌ Don't Create New Fire Rings Where They Already Exist

When you're in an area where campfires are allowed, using an existing fire ring is the safest way to control your fire. Fire rings are typically located in campsites or designated areas that have been assessed for safety by park rangers or other authorities. Creating your own fire ring is not advisable. Consider this: parks frequently experience a high volume of visitors. Imagine the environmental impact if everyone decided to build their own fire pits!

❌ Don't Burn Trash or Food in the Campfire

While it may seem like a convenient way to dispose of extra food or trash, burning them in your campfire is neither safe nor responsible. Burning trash releases harmful carcinogens and toxins into the air, affecting both you and your fellow campers. Remember, what you burn, you breathe. So, be mindful and dispose of your waste responsibly.

✅ Do Check Local Campfire Rules and Regulations

In recent summers, FIRE BAN signs have become increasingly common, sometimes covering entire states. Before heading out for your camping trip, it's crucial to be aware of the current fire regulations. Most state and federally-operated parks provide this information on their websites. Familiarize yourself with the guidelines and best practices for fire safety specific to the area you'll be visiting.

✅ Don't Bring Firewood From Another Location

This rule is more than just a local custom; it's a vital precaution against introducing invasive species to a new environment. Small creatures that live in firewood can wreak havoc when transported to new habitats. To minimize this risk, purchase your firewood locally or, if permitted, collect it in the area where you're camping.

The 4 D's of Responsible Firewood Collection

  1. Dead: Use only dead wood.
  2. Down: Stick to wood that's already on the ground; don't cut off tree branches.
  3. Distant: Collect your wood a good distance from your camp.
  4. Dinky: Opt for small pieces of wood, roughly the size of your forearm.

How to Safely Extinguish a Campfire

Properly putting out a campfire is as important as building one safely. Follow these steps to ensure your fire is completely extinguished:

  1. Have Enough Water Ready: Either bring sufficient water or use some from a nearby source.
  2. Burn to Ash: Let the wood burn completely until it turns to ash.
  3. Douse the Fire: Pour water generously until all hissing stops and the embers are soaked.
  4. Stir the Ashes: Use a shovel or stick to stir the ash and leave the stick in the fire.
  5. Check for Heat: Hover your hand over the ashes to feel for heat. If it's still hot, repeat steps 1-4.