#childsafety | 7 Safety Tips for Your Family’s Next Campfire

For many families, an evening campfire is the best part of camping. Relaxing, spending time and sharing stories with each other around the glow of a crackling fire can be the recipe for a magical evening.

To preserve this campfire magic, it is essential to be responsible around fires. Parks Canada has some simple guidelines to help you and your family to stay safe while you enjoy your next campfire.

Check for Fire Bans

Before you start a fire, always check for fire bans. A fire ban is a legal restriction on certain types of fires to prevent human-caused wildfires. Fire bans are implemented based on local hazards, forecasted weather conditions, moisture levels, the regional wildfire situation and the availability of responders. Fire bans may be in place even if it is cold and rainy because their status is determined by long term trends rather than daily weather. Remember to check for fire ban alerts in your province and in parks where you are hoping to have your campfire.

It is important to learn which cooking, heating and lighting items are permitted during a fire ban within the jurisdiction where you intend to have your fire. If you are unsure if your fire is permitted, please call or check online for fire ban rules and regulations with your municipality or campground.

Use a Fire Pit

It is important to build campfires in your site’s designated fire pit. Most campsites have fire pits or metal fireboxes. These keep your fire controlled and contained to help prevent wildfires.  

Find four tips from Parks Canada to keep your family healthy and sanitized while camping here.

Do You Need a Fire Permit?

If you are unsure if you need a fire permit, check with your local municipality or the campground where you are staying before you start a fire. For example, at Parks Canada locations, you need to purchase a fire permit before starting a fire in road-accessible campgrounds. However, at most Parks Canada sites, you can start a fire in backcountry campgrounds or day-use areas without a fire permit.

Start Your Fire Safely

Never use gasoline to start a wood burning campfire. Starting a campfire with gasoline is dangerous to both you and the surrounding environment. Instead, consider using a fire-starter. A fire-starter is a piece of flammable material used to help start a fire. You can make a homemade fire starter with crumpled newspaper, dryer lint in egg cartons, cotton balls soaked in petroleum jelly or greasy chips like corn chips. Alternatively, consider purchasing a commercial fire-starter.

Tend to Your Fire

Remember to attend to your fire at all times while it is burning. It is important to keep your fire small and under control at all times. Always keep a water bucket nearby in case of emergencies, or to put out the fire when you are done. Before you go to bed or leave your campfire, completely extinguish your fire. Soak it, stir it with a stick and soak it again until it is cool to the touch before leaving it. A tended fire is a safe fire!

Looking for a camping snack that’s sure to be a hit with the kids? Find the recipe for campfire muffins baked in oranges here.

Be Aware of Your Children and Pets

When you have an open fire in the company of children, or pets, exercise extra caution. Be sure to teach your children about the dangers of fire and safe fire practices. Attempt to minimize play around open fires and supervise your children at all times. If you have pets, keep them leashed and ensure they are a safe distance from the fire. If your child or pet is close to the fire, remember to watch for sparking embers that can cause injuries.

Report Signs of Wildfires

You can help with wildfire detection. Report any wildfires, illegal campfires or suspicious smoke to your province’s wildfire detection hotline or call 911 if the fire presents an imminent danger.

Campfires are a great way to bond, stay warm and cook food when camping. By following these safety tips you can ensure your campfires remain a safe and enjoyable camping tradition for your whole family.

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