Complete Guide to Ensuring Fire Safety while Camping

Fire Safety while camping


Fire safety while camping is a topic that cannot be overstressed. The allure of a crackling fire under the starlit sky is one of the many reasons people venture into the great outdoors. 

However, the same fire that cooks our meals, keeps us warm, and adds an enchanting ambiance to our camping experience can also pose a significant risk if not handled correctly.

The Importance of Fire Safety While Camping

The role of fire in camping is multifaceted. It serves as a source of heat, a means to cook food, and a way to keep potential wildlife at bay. 

But, mishandling fire can lead to devastating consequences. Uncontrolled campfires can quickly spread, causing widespread damage to the environment and potentially endangering lives. 

In fact, according to the National Park Service, an average of 85% of wildland fires in the United States are caused by humans, with unattended or improperly extinguished campfires being a significant contributor. NFPA’s Camping Safety Tips

Smokey Bear’s Campfire Safety Guide

Preparing for a Safe Campfire

Choosing the Right Campfire Spot

Choosing the right spot for your campfire is the first step towards ensuring fire safety while camping. 

The ideal spot is away from trees, bushes, and other flammable materials. It should also be shielded from gusts of wind that could blow embers around.

 Always use designated fire pits or rings if they’re available. If not, choose a flat, open location and clear a space of about 10 feet in diameter, removing any grass, leaves, or other combustible materials.

Preparing Your Campfire Pit

Once you’ve chosen the right spot, the next step is preparing your campfire pit. Dig a small pit about a foot deep. 

This pit will contain the fire, helping to prevent it from spreading. Surround the pit with rocks to further insulate the fire and keep it contained. 

Remember, never to build a fire against a rock, cliff, or log, as the heat can cause rocks to shatter and can ignite a log or tree.

Building a Safe Campfire

beige wood putted on fire

Gathering the Right Firewood

When it comes to building a campfire, not all wood is created equal. 

You’ll need three types of wood: tinder (small twigs, dry leaves, or grass), kindling (small sticks), and firewood (larger logs). 

Use only fallen branches and twigs, and never cut branches from living trees. Using local wood is also crucial to prevent the spread of invasive species.

Techniques for Building a Campfire

There are several techniques for building a campfire, but the most common is the teepee method. 

Start by placing your tinder in the center of your fire pit. 

Then, build a teepee with your kindling around the tinder. Light the tinder with a match or lighter. 

As the kindling catches fire, add more until you have a strong fire going. Then, you can start adding your larger logs, one at a time. 

Remember, a smaller fire is easier to control and requires less firewood.

REI’s Guide on Building a Campfire

Maintaining and Extinguishing Your Campfire Safely: A Guide to Fire Safety While Camping

bonfire photo

Maintaining Your Campfire

Maintaining your campfire is just as crucial as building it. A well-maintained fire is easier to control, safer, and more efficient. 

Monitoring the fire is the first step in maintaining it. 

Never leave your fire unattended. An unattended fire can quickly get out of control, especially if the wind picks up or if there are flammable materials nearby.

Keeping the fire contained is another essential aspect of maintaining your campfire. Keep the fire small and manageable. 

A large fire might seem more impressive, but it’s also more dangerous and harder to control. 

Remember, the goal isn’t to build the biggest fire but to build a safe and efficient one.

Extinguishing Your Campfire

When and How to Extinguish Your Campfire

Knowing when and how to extinguish your campfire is a critical part of fire safety while camping. 

You should extinguish your fire when you’re finished with it, when it’s time for bed, or when you’re leaving your campsite. 

To extinguish your fire, sprinkle water on it, don’t pour. Pouring can cause a rush of steam and might scatter embers. 

Stir the ashes with a stick while sprinkling water to ensure all embers get wet.

Checking That the Fire is Completely Out

Before leaving your campsite or going to bed, you must check that the fire is completely out. The coals should be cool to the touch. 

If it’s too hot to touch, it’s too hot to leave. Continue adding water and stirring the ashes until everything is cool.

Fire Safety Tips and Rules

General fire safety rules while camping include keeping a bucket of water and a shovel nearby, keeping your fire small, and never leaving it unattended. 

In case of a fire emergency while camping, the first step is to ensure everyone in your group is safe and away from the fire. 

If the fire is small and manageable, use your available resources such as water, a fire extinguisher, or dirt to try to put it out. 

However, if the fire is spreading rapidly, do not attempt to extinguish it yourself. Immediately leave the area and move to a safe location. 

Contact the local authorities or park rangers as soon as possible, providing them with detailed information about the location and size of the fire. 

Remember, your safety and the safety of your group is the top priority. Material possessions can be replaced, but lives cannot.


What are fire safety tips when camping?

Fire safety tips when camping include choosing the right spot for your campfire, keeping the fire small and contained, never leaving the fire unattended, and ensuring the fire is completely extinguished before leaving the site or going to bed.

What are the 6 things you need to consider when building a campfire?

When building a campfire, consider the location of the fire, the preparation of the fire pit, the type of wood you’re using, the size of the fire, the direction of the wind, and your means of extinguishing the fire.

How far away should a tent be from a fire?

Your tent should be at least 15 feet away from the campfire. This distance ensures that sparks or embers from the fire don’t reach your tent, which could be a fire hazard.

In conclusion, fire safety while camping is a crucial aspect of enjoying the great outdoors. By following these guidelines and tips, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable camping experience for everyone.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *