RVing and campfires go hand-in-hand, but the hot, dry months of camping season often mean dangerous conditions that could bring a disastrous end to your bon fire. Be aware of drought conditions and burn restrictions near your campsite and follow our campfire safety tips to help keep your fire under control.
Know the Fire Restrictions in Your Area
Before heading out on your camping trip, do an internet search for the drought conditions for your destination, and when you arrive, check with rangers or the campground office for fire restrictions. Depending on weather conditions, all fires may be banned, or the use of campfires may be limited to those in fire rings only.
Some fire restrictions still allow for outdoor cooking, but limit cooking to charcoal cooking fires in campsite metal fire rings, self-contained portable grills, and permanently mounted picnic grills.
It is your responsibility to know the specifics of all restrictions before you spark a flame.
Campfire Safety 101
Pick A Safe Place to Build Your Fire
If building a campfire is permitted, use the fire ring provided by the campground, or choose a location that is downwind from your site and clear of combustible materials such as pine needles and dry grass. When building your own fire pit, be sure to surround it with rocks to help contain the flames.
Never Use Flammable Liquids
Crumpled newspaper or other naturally flammable kindling are safer ways to get your blaze started. Gasoline or other flammable liquids can create large flames that can quickly get out of control, especially in dry conditions.
Make Sure Your Fire Is Extinguished
The best way to know your fire is completely out is to let all the wood burn to ash before leaving your campsite or turning in for the night. Sometimes, however, that is easier said than done as a well-constructed campfire could take several hours to completely burn out.
If you are short on time, water is your best extinguisher. Pour water over all of the embers, not just the red ones. This may take several gallons, and you will know you have used enough when you no longer hear a hissing noise when the water makes contact with what used to be your campfire. Use a shovel that is at least 26 inches long with an eight-inch blade to stir the ashes and embers until everything is cool to the touch.
Use dirt or sand if you do not have enough water. Stir the dirt with the ashes and embers until it is cool to the touch, adding more dirt if needed. Do not simply cover the fire with dirt or sand. Embers underneath can continue to smolder and possibly ignite underground tree roots. Eventually, this fire could reach the surface and launch a wildfire.
More Campfire Safety Tips
- Don’t burn or start a campfire in windy conditions.
- Keep fires small.
- Don’t wear flammable or loose clothing near a fire.
- Keep children and pets away from the fire
- Never leave a fire unattended.
- Always keep a fire extinguisher with your camping gear.