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It doesn’t matter what season we are in, if we are camping, we are having at least one campfire. Campfires are a staple for camping trips: roasting marshmallows, telling campfire stories, sharing laughs and creating memories are all things that a campfire brings to your camping trip; along with the warmth of the fire on a cool night, of course! Although campfires are mostly regarded for their ability to create a bond between you and those who sit around it with you, campfires can also be very dangerous if they are not handled with the proper safety precautions. Campfire accidents send thousands of children and adults to the emergency room with burn injuries each year. Burns account for 74 percent of all children’s camping injuries, and nearly 50 percent of children admitted to hospitals with burns are less than 4 years old. So follow these tips to ensure that your favorite camping tradition is both fun and safe!

  1. Use only the designated pits to build your fire. These pits should be on gravel or dirt, never grass.

  2. Clear the area of any dry leaves and sticks and make sure that automobiles, tents, campers, and other items are placed at a considerable distance from the fire.

  3. Check the weather forecast. Even a small amount of wind can blow burning debris or sparks onto a flammable surface or YOU!

  4. Stack extra wood upwind and away from the fire.

  5. Start building your fire with small sticks and twigs and gradually work your way up to the larger pieces of wood. When placing the large pieces of wood on the fire, point them inwards and use another piece of wood to shift them to their desired spot.

  6. NEVER USE FLAMMABLE LIQUID TO IGNITE YOUR FIRE! Please avoid gasoline, lighter fluid, diesel fuel and other dangerous liquids to prevent serious accidents and injuries.

  7. Keep your campfire small and contained. A suggested size would be a 2ft x 2 ft x 2ft fire.

  8. Never allow children and pets to play or stand too close to the fire and NEVER leave the fire unattended.

  9. Keep a bucket of water and a fire extinguisher nearby in case of emergencies and teach children to stop, drop, and roll, if their clothing ever catches fire.

  10. When extinguishing the fire, make sure to drown the fire completely with water. Many people forget that coals that are not cooled or extinguished can remain hot and capable of inflicting burns for 24 hours. To ensure that they are out, do not bury them, which can keep them hot, instead, pour water and stir the ashes and embers until it is clear that they have all been cooled.