Safety tips for before, during and after a campfire.

Sitting next a warm campfire is one of the best parts of camping, bringing you closer to nature and allowing you to connect with those around you. However, campfires are also one of the leading human-made causes of forest fires1 and require care and attention to avoid turning those relaxing moments into a potential emergency. Plus, parties found responsible for runaway flames could be held accountable (liable) for expenses related to any property damage.

Stay safe by following these tips before, during, and after your campfire.

Safety tips for before a campfire

Fire safety starts before the campfire is even lit, including these:

  • Check for fire bans or restrictions in effect in your area
  • Always build your fire in a fire pit, if one is available
  • Ensure the area around the fire is clear of debris - including overhanging tree branches
  • Keep campfires away from structures like sheds, houses, decks and patios
  • Use kindling like twigs or newspaper to start a fire - never use gas or other accelerants
  • Keep all combustibles and extra wood, away from the campfire
  • Avoid building campfires if it’s too windy

Safety tips for during a campfire

It’s easy to get mesmerized by a roaring fire, making it all the more important to stay diligent and focused. Keeping these tips in mind will help:

  • Never leave your campfire unattended and remain alert at all times
  • Keep a bucket of water, or sand and a shovel within arm's reach at all times
  • Don’t let the fire get too big - keep it to a manageable size that would be easy to extinguish if needed
  • Never reach into a campfire to move a piece of wood - even if you just added it
  • Watch for sparks that may fly out of the fire and extinguish them immediately

Safety tips for after a campfire

The last and one of the most important steps involve properly putting your fire out. These are some tips to ensure it ends as safely as it began:

  • Totally extinguish the fire before walking away or going to sleep
  • If you can, allow the fire to burn out completely so only coals or ashes are left
  • Keep pouring water on the fire until there are no red coals left and you can’t hear the fire hissing
  • Stir the ashes around with a shovel until you are sure everything is wet - fires left burning underground can resurface and start another fire

Additional safety tips for when pets are involved

Campfires are magical to adults and even more so to kids. Follow these additional safety tips to keep the magic alive:

  • Only adults should light fires and add wood to them
  • Watch kids closely while roasting marshmallows
  • Never leave a child unsupervised by a fire
  • Keep matches or lighters out of the reach of children
  • Teach kids to “STOP, DROP and ROLL” if their clothes ever catch fire

Got a dog?

If you have a dog, ensure they don’t get too close to the fire. One rogue spark could really harm your fur-baby. You should also be mindful when roasting marshmallows, as you don’t want your pooch to burn its mouth trying to sneak a quick snack.

Never built a campfire before?

Visit the Parks Canada website for advice on building a campfire.

After reading all of these tips, you should feel more than prepared to safely enjoy a campfire. However, it is still recommended to understand your insurance coverage, in the unfortunate event that a fire does get out of hand. To look into how you’re covered, please visit MyInsurance.