Before heading out on a day trip, a hike, or an overnight camping trip, check the local weather forecast. This will help you plan – but be prepared for changes in weather, especially in the mountains or by bodies of water where conditions can change rapidly.
The sun can be strong – wear sunscreen or long-sleeved tops and a hat. If you are camping or hiking near a body of water, pay special attention to the sun’s reflected rays.
Lightning can also be dangerous. When storms move in, make sure to watch the weather and take precautions before the storm hits.
There's nothing like the tempting smell of marshmallows toasting or hot dogs roasting over an open fire. But, when you're cooking outdoors, campfire safety is of the utmost importance. So, before you get dinner started, you need to be sure you're not just enjoying a meal, but staying safe, as well. Here are five simple fire safety tips for your next camping adventure.
Step 1: Look Up and Around
Campfire safety starts well before the fire gets roaring. When scouting out your fire pit, make sure it's not under any low-hanging branches or near any brush or bushes. Items like these can easily go up in flames if the fire gets bigger than anticipated. Also keep a radius of eight to 10 feet around the fire pit clear of tents, chairs, food and any other debris or obstructions.
Step 2: Safety Proof Your Pit
While most campgrounds have a fire pit, it's not always ready to go when it comes time for your first fire. Depending on the last campers who used it, there may be some additional safety measures you'll need to take:
Clear all debris from around the fire pit, including garbage and grass. There should be a five-foot perimeter of soil around the campfire space. If there is no metal ring, circle the pit with rocks. If your fire grows in size, this will help keep it within the borders of the fire pit. Keep any flammable items far from the fire. This includes aerosol cans and pressurized containers. If you ever have any questions, you can always call over your campground ranger. Campfire safety is their top priority, and rangers can double-check whether or not the pit is ready to use. It's always better to be safe than sorry.
Step 3: Keep Water Nearby
A big gust of wind or new piece of wood could cause your fire to grow larger than anticipated. In that case, always keep water, dirt or a shovel nearby to help reduce the flames or put the fire out completely if necessary. Controlling the fire can be just as important as putting it out.
Step 4: Always Watch
Whether you're camping alone, with friends or with your whole family, it's easy to get distracted and walk away from the fire. Regardless of what is going on around you, make sure someone always has an eye on the fire. It's especially important to keep an eye on pets and children that may be sitting or walking near the fire.
Step 5: Extinguish Before Bed
When it's time for bed, you need to put out the fire. There are a number of ways you can do this, but throwing water or dirt on the fire is always the best option. Then, stir the embers around with a shovel to ensure another fire won't start. Ideally, the coals should be wet and cold.
Most campers would agree that camping just isn't the same without a campfire. However, a great trip is quickly ruined if someone is hurt or something catches fire. Keep campfire safety in mind, and fun will surely ensue.