Nothing works better to stay warm and cozy, than a nice fire.
It could turn your living room in a calm and romantic environment, or turn a beach barbeque into a nostalgic evening of fun with friends! A well-built fire is also a vital element for any camping trip.
In an earlier post, we discussed the importance of learning how to put out a campfire. Since we already learned handy tips for this basic, but essential step, today we would like to share some useful tips for building a safe campfire.
Most U.S. State Parks and natural camping sites already have assigned campfire pits or rings. However, from time to time you might be camping where there are no set areas for building a fire. Whenever possible use the provided campfire rings. However, should you find yourself in a situation that requires you to improvise, follow these careful steps.
Pick Your Spot
- Avoid building the campfire under dry, hazardous conditions.
- Keep your tent at least, fifteen feet away from the burning site. Look out for shrubs, trees or other flammable objects. Also, beware of low-hanging branches overhead.
Dig A Pit
- Choose a spot that’s downwind and protected from wind gusts.
- Clear a 10-foot diameter area around the site. Scrape away litter, duff, grass, twigs, leaves, firewood and any burnable material. This will keep the campfire from spreading.
- Dig a pit in the dirt, about one foot deep.
- Circle the pit with rocks to keep the perimeter fixed and help with heating.
Setting Your Campfire
- Once the pit is ready, fill it with small pieces of dry wood; never rip or cut branches from living trees.
- Check the wind direction and place your unused firewood upwind and away from the fire.
- Keep a bucket of water and a shovel nearby.
Building the Campfire
Campfires must be less than 3 feet in height and 4 feet in diameter. Only charcoal or untreated wood can be used as fuel. Start building a campfire with tinder, or small twigs, dry leaves or grass. Then, add kindling or twigs smaller than 1 inch around. These smaller sticks will help ignite larger pieces of wood, which fuel the fire and keep it going.
- Ignite the tinder with a match or lighter.
- Be sure your match is out. Wait until it is cold and discard it in the fire.
- Add more tinder as the fire grows.
- Blow lightly at the base of the fire.
- Add kindling and firewood to keep the fire going.
Never leave a campfire unattended. Even a small breeze could cause the fire to spread quickly. Keep it small and under control. Remember to keep near you, a bucket of water or sand to put out the fire. If you plan to cook on the fire, keep in mind that it would be burning hot. It is better to use special outdoor cooking gear, to avoid any accidents.
Once you are done for the night, follow the steps mentioned in our previous post on how to safely put out a campfire and enjoy the rest of the evening. Being a responsible camper isn’t a hard task, but makes a huge difference when protecting our National Treasures, and protecting our planet!