As a tween, I always loved campfires and pouring accelerants on fires. Seeing the flames shoot up in the air like lightening was exciting, especially if the fire crackled and boomed, but looking back, that was incredibly dangerous and it only takes one unlucky night to change your life forever.
The next time you go camping in the campgrounds or in the backyard with your friends or family, and you prepare for an evening of silly tales and s’mores, make sure that the fire you are congregating around is safe for you and everyone else. Before making your fire, remember these tips to avoid disaster:
- One of the easiest ways to ensure fire safety is to make your fire on a designated fire ring or pit. If no such pit exists, the gas can by campfire in a can is a good alternative. Propane campfire pits are portable and give you the flexibility to control the flame size. This is a great safety feature to help prevent a fire from getting out of hand.
- Build your fire in an area free of debris, brush and long hanging branches and never allow your children to help make the fire. According to Health Canada, “children and elders are at a higher risk of suffering from fire-related injuries than a healthy adult.“
- Never pour accelerants or any other flammable liquids on fires. This is a common way to go from a fun and entertaining evening to a raging fire.
- Always have plenty of water on hand (at least two jugs, not just a flimsy cup). It’s easy to panic if a fire gets out of hand, but remain calm and use your water.
- Do not place your shoes or body on the edge of a fire pit. Even if the pit only feels lurk warm, it’s easy
- Do not melt foreign objects in the fire. Although it can be entertaining to watch a cup melt to liquid, plastics and other items contain toxins that are not good for your health, so when you finish that beer or burger, toss your bottle and plastic plate in recycling containers.
- When cooking over your fire, if your food item catches flames, it’s easy to panic. For example, several years ago I went camping and everyone was roasting marshmallows. One person wasn’t paying attention and their marshmallow went up in high flames. Instead of dropping it into the fire pit, pouring water on it or stomping it out, this person panicked and shook their marshmallow rapidly back and worth trying to put out the flame”¦the result: the marshmallow went flying off their stick and through the air, hitting another camper in the eye. This person to this day still has a large scar across her face from the severe burns she sustained.
Health Canada also reminds us that “a child’s skin burns more quickly than an adult’s, and even minor burns can cover large parts of their bodies,” so be very careful when cooking. No one wants scars!
- Never leave a fire unattended for any reason and never allow children by a fire unsupervised. Since children are prone to falling, as a rule of thumb, keep children at least three feet from the ring unless being assisted by an adult.
Camping trips are all about having a great time, but it’s easy for a great time to turn into a horrible night. Before pouring that accelerant to make a loud boom, remember the effects of that boom can start a forest fire or catch someone else on fire. These fire safety tips aren’t meant to scare you, but they are meant to prepare you for your next trip.
In the words Joan Crawford: “Love is a fire. But whether it is going to warm your hearth or burn down your house, you can never tell.”
Fires can be unpredictable, so don’t let one predict your future.