What is a Camping Trip without a campfire? It would be a rather boring camping experience, don’t you think? Building a campfire can be a very rewarding experience, but there are some safety precautions and other factors one should know about before leaving. Here are a few tips on campfire safety that should be adhered to in order to ensure you have a great camping experience.
- Before going on your camping trip, make sure you choose the right campground. Before you make a reservation (necessary on a busy weekend like Memorial Day), find out the campground’s rules on campfires. Believe it or not, some campgrounds do not allow campfires at all. They have their reasons. However, I can not imagine what they could be. I usually avoid these places like the plague. If you do not do your research and show up at one of these places, you are just plain out of luck… “Oops!! Look at the signs around the campground. No campfires!! Sorry, honey. I should have done my research.”
There are also areas where you can have campfires, but you can not pick your wood from the woods. There are many places in these areas where you can buy bundles of wood for $3.00 a bundle on up. You have to spend a little bit of money if you want your fire to go all night (or until bed time anyway). However, if you get to one of these areas and you want to build a campfire, that is what you are going to have to do.
In California, this type of camping is unavoidable. I did a lot of camping there and did not find a place anywhere where you could pick your own wood.
Then, you have the places that, pretty much, have no real restriction. The only thing they ask is you adhere to general fire safety. These are my favorite places to go.
- Most of the latter type campgrounds have designated fire pits. USE THEM!!! They are there for your safety. They are usually in the area of the campsite where there are the least low-hanging branches and furthest away from your tent site. If there is not a fire pit, you can easily build one by gathering enough big rocks to put in a circle. This wall of rocks must be big enough to keep the wood inside the ring. Also, clear away any twigs, dried leaves, paper, etc within several feet from the fire pit.
- When building your fire, start out with small twigs, a little paper and anything else that can be used as a fire starter.
Side note: Some folks put dried leaves on the pile to help start the fire. I do not use them, because they make a fire smokey.
Then, you start putting your kindling down. These sticks are a little bigger that the twigs (about 1/2″ to 1″ in diameter). After that, throw on you bigger logs. There are several way to do this. I like to build a tepee style fire the best. I feel this is the strongest fire structure. There you go… A little architectural lesson from the Indians.
- Make sure your fire is a comfortable size. Building your fire too big could be catastrophic to the people in your group as well as your camping neighbors. It will not be a great thing for the wildlife and the forest either. “Oh, no! The tree overhead just caught fire. What should I do?” Make sure that you have the correct equipment (ie. bucket full of water, shovel or a fire extinguisher) in case the fire does leave the boundaries of the fire pit.
- Have fun. Bring out the weenies and the marshmallows. Play cards. Tell stories. However, you must also be safe. Respect your fire. There should be no horseplay around the fire.
I hope these tips on campfire safety have helped you plan a safe camping trip.