Campfires can provide the backdrop for lots of outdoor fun. But, if people are careless, those campfires can spark a damaging wildfire, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation says.
So, how can you safely have a campfire?
First, use existing campfire rings whenever you can. Or, if you’re in a remote area, consider using a small portable stove instead of a campfire.
If you can’t find an existing campfire ring, take care to situate your campfire away from tree branches, steep slopes, rotten tree stumps, logs, dry grass, leaves and other vegetation that could catch fire. Extra wood should also be stored at a safe distance from a campfire site, the New York state conservation experts cautioned.
The agency also provided the following safety tips for campfires:
- Campfires must be less than 3 feet high and 4 feet in diameter.
- Only charcoal or untreated wood should be used as fuel. A bed of coals or a small fire surrounded by rocks provides significant heat.
- Sweep away litter and any flammable material within a 10-foot diameter circle to prevent a campfire from spreading.
- Hold a match until it is cold to be sure the flame is out.
- Never leave a campfire unattended. A campfire can spread with just a small breeze.
- Douse a campfire with water to be sure all embers, coals, and sticks are wet. If water is unavailable, use dirt. Never bury coals, because they can smolder and spark a fire.
- Move rocks to make sure there are no burning embers beneath them. Stir the remains, add more water, and stir them again.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service has more about campfire safety.