Whether your children are exploring the great outdoors at camp, or you and your family are planning a relaxing adventure in the woods, you’re looking forward to fresh air, wildlife sightings, s’mores and ghost stories around the campfire. To ensure both your safety and the safety of everyone else in the park or campground, here are 3 principles for campfire safety.
1. Do due diligence and prep work before you make the fire.
Don’t wait until the sun falls level with the horizon to gather your firewood. Dig your pit away from overhanging branches, and put a circle of rocks and stones around it. Clear away any shrubbery or debris that could catch on fire, and create a “moat” of sand and dirt (5 foot radius) from the center of the fire. Have a bucket of water nearby as well as a shovel. Keep your wood and kindling far from the source of the fire – upwind from it! – so it doesn’t accidently blow into the fire or catch flame due to the migration of heat. Also, clear the area of any food, chairs, packs and tents.
2. Light and tend the fire with vigilance.
Make sure, for instance, the match that you use to light the fire extinguishes completely before discarding it. Keep children at a safe distance, and be on the lookout for sparks and smoke blowing off the fire. For healthy adults and healthy children, a small amount of campfire smoke will usually not prove harmful. But campfire smoke contains harmful aerosolized chemicals, including carbon monoxide and dust and other organics. These can cause lung irritation and provoke asthma attacks. Be watchful. Just like you might select a designated driver to drive to you home after a party; so, too, should you consider choosing a designated “campfire watcher” who will be sober enough to ensure fire safety and put the fire out.
3. Put out the fire before going to sleep.
After long night of s’mores, scary stories and funny conversations, it might be tempting to let the fire “die out’ after you get into the tent. Avoid doing this! Make sure the fire is completely out and that the coals are cold. Just because you don’t see any fire actually actively burning in the pit doesn’t mean that the pit isn’t dangerous. The coals might still be hot; they could ignite kindling or leaves that blow into the pit overnight. Or a camper could accidently step on the uncooled fire pit during a late night bathroom excursion and get burned in the process.
If someone you love suffered an injury or illness due to someone else’s inaction or wrongdoing, our Washington D.C. personal injury attorneys can help you seek compensation effectively.
Fire and smoke hazards persist inside the home as well. Learn what you need to do to protect your family: Smoke Alarms: The Most Efficient Way to Prevent Home Fire Tragedies.