Things Hikers and Campers Should Know About Fire Safety

Categories:Backpacking Advice | Camp Cooking | Camping Advice | Featured | Hiking Advice

Summer is nearly over, but that doesn’t mean that you should pack up the tents and sleeping bags just yet. End of summer camping trips are a fantastic way to wrap up the warmer months, but the dry end of summer weather also makes it more dangerous to set up a cooking fire at your campsite. How can you stay warm at night while still staying safe?

Keep Extinguishers Handy

If your fire happens to make it beyond the boundaries of your campfire, it’s important to have some form of extinguisher handy. A large bucket of water or sand works well — sand or dirt should be your choice for a grease fire or flare up, as water will just make the fire spread further.

If you’re carrying water, you likely won’t have enough to spare to put out fires. Having sand or loose dirt can be used to smother a fire if needed. If you’re traveling in an RV, your gray water tank is perfect for extinguishing fire — just make sure you have enough!

If you’ve got a car or RV with you, consider investing in a camping fire extinguisher. It isn’t the best option for putting out an entire campfire but it can easily extinguish a flare up if one happens to occur.

Keep Your Area Clear

Make sure that the area you are using is clear of any ignitable debris. Bring a rake or a shovel with you and clear the area of leaves, pine needles, small sticks, and anything else that could possibly catch fire. Campfire pits are easier to control, and easier to extinguish when you’re ready to move on.

Keep Grease to A Minimum

There’s nothing quite like cooking over an open fire but grease flare ups can be dangerous and hard to control, especially in outdoor environments. Try to keep the grease to a minimum when you’re cooking — focus on lean proteins, and keep your cooking oils and butters well contained or forego them entirely. Roast your foods in the fire, or stir fry them in a small non-stick pans that don’t require oil to keep the food from sticking.

Don’t Use Accelerants — Ever.

Accelerants like gasoline and lighter fluid might get your fire going quickly or keep it going if it’s started dying down, but it can also be dangerous. It can cause your fire to flare up dangerously and spread faster than you can keep it under control. Even if your fire is burned down to embers, it can still flare if accelerants are introduced to your fire pit.

Instead of relying on accelerants, make some DIY fire starters that will burn long enough to get the fire started or reignited without relying on accelerants that are difficult to control.

Don’t Make It Bigger Than You Need To

Bonfires can be great fun, if properly controlled, but there’s no reason to make a basic campfire any bigger than it needs to be. Chances are, you won’t need anything bigger than a small fire to cook your food, boil you water, or keep you warm when the nights get cooler.

The larger your fire is, the harder it is to control and the more difficult it becomes to extinguish it when you’re ready to leave.

Be Aware of Current Burn Rules

Make sure that you’re allowed to set up a campfire before you start lighting a fire. Each campsite may have its own rules about when and where fires are allowed, so be sure to check before you pick a site.
Depending on the local weather conditions, states and counties may have rules about fires — dryer weather makes it more dangerous to set up campfires. If it gets too dry, local states might even ban barbequing, fireworks, and other forms of open flame. In some locations, it gets dry enough that even a casually flicked cigarette can be enough to start a wildfire, so take care and always follow local laws and burn bans.

Don’t let this discourage you from enjoying those end of the summer camping trips — just be aware of the rules and always be careful with your campfire.


Kacey is a lifestyle blogger for The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture and the world around us. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations and cultures, all while portraying her love for the world around her through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing and inspiring posts.

Follow Kacey on Twitter and subscribe to her blog to keep up with her travels and inspiring posts!

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