One campfire has the potential to start a forest fire. Before building a campfire, check with the campground, State Park, National Park or U.S. Forest Service to find out if campfires are allowed in the area. Check if there is a fire season alert. During hot, dry or windy weather, campfires are often disallowed. Follow campfire safety rules to prevent a forest fire. Read facts about campfires to learn how to have a safe campfire for a fun camping experience.
Fire rings contain ground campfires, helping to prevent the fire from spreading to other areas. Always use a fire ring when building a campfire. If you do not have one, build your own by making a circle with rocks. Set the fire ring on a level dirt surface away from grass, trees and brush. Brush easily catches on fire, especially in dry weather. If you are camping in a campground that already has a fire ring, use the campground's. Not only is it usually a campground rule, but the fire rings are placed there for a reason. Campgrounds place their fire rings away from the roots of trees to avoiding harming them. Campfires that burn on top of underground tree roots, heat up the underground roots and damage or kill them. Be careful; fire rings stay hot long after a fire has burned out.
Seasoned hardwoods are safer than softwoods in campfires. Softwoods spark, creating a potential fire hazard. The sparks can shoot into nearby brush. Seasoned hardwoods are much safer for campfires and burn longer than softwoods. Bring your own wood and kindling to the campground. Do not use downed wood, including twigs and dried leaves, in your campfires. In addition to the collection of downed wood being disallowed in many areas, downed wood sparks and collecting downed wood is bad for the environment. Downed wood and dried leaves are important to the environment. They are used by wildlife as homes, and downed wood and dried leaves naturally biodegrade into the soil and nourish plant life.
Big campfires can quickly get out of control in the event of a breeze or gust of wind. Keep campfires small. Cover the campfire with dirt or water if it gets too big.
Old furniture and construction materials are not safe to burn in campfires. They contain chemicals that are harmful to humans when inhaled.
Never leave a campfire unattended. Even the remains of a flameless smoldering campfire can reignite in the right conditions. A small gust of wind can reignite the fire or carry smoldering ash to nearby brush and cause a fire. Cover burned-out campfires with dirt or water to ensure they are fully out.
Never bury the remains of a campfire in the ground. Although it appears that the fire has been put out, it might not actually be out. Fire remains that are buried in the ground can continue to heat up and smolder, harming tree roots, and eventually they might start a forest fire.
Article Written By Rose Kivi
Rose Kivi has been a writer for more than 10 years. She has a background in the nursing field, wildlife rehabilitation and habitat conservation. Kivi has authored educational textbooks, patient health care pamphlets, animal husbandry guides, outdoor survival manuals and was a contributing writer for two books in the Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Series.