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Campfire safety

Campfires while camping are one of the main reasons that I love to camp. I could wear that smell as cologne. I love the way it makes me relax when staring at it through a steaming cup of hot coffee in the morning, and I love the way my kids smile when using it to make smores at night. But sometimes in the enjoyment of the campfire, we tend to forget the responsibility that comes with having one.

Fire safety when camping is something all campers and family's should be aware of while camping. You always want to be aware of fire safety procedures and prevention when using our natural spaces. Many people can remember the Ham lake fire in the BWCA, and how devastating it was to the area and natural landscape. not to mention the family's who lost their homes and businesses. Here are a handful of fire safety procedures you can use when out in Minnesota's beautiful green space.

- Always check for state fire bans in your region before going on an outing.
- During campfire bans, Campfires are limited to fire rings. Even these fires can reignite and spread embers to nearby vegetation.
- Always build campfires away from overhanging trees and branches, logs, leaves, and dry grass.
- Pile extra wood away from the fire.
- Always have a water hose or bucket nearby. A shovel is also a good idea to throw dirt on an out of control fire.
- Keep campfires small. You get plenty of heat from the embers of a small fire (it's more intimate anyways).
- Clean any duff and combustible material within a ten foot diameter circle around your campfire.
- Do not discard the match after lighting until it is cold.
- Never leave a campfire unattended. Even small breezes can cause a fire to spread.
- Always drown a fire with water carefully, stirring as you do this until all embers are gone and you see no glowing, steam or smoke. If you do not have water you could use dirt.
- Feel all materials with your bare hand. Sometimes roots can still burn under the ground.
- Always keep an eye on small children when around the fire. This is also a good time to talk to kids early about the importance of campfire safety or fire safety in general. See Smokey the Bears fire safety tips for kids.

Campfires are an integral part of camping in my book. The crackle and pop of the wood, the smell of the smoke, the laugh of the kids, the smores, the quiet mesmerizing night. the list could go on and on. Enjoy your tranquil campfire moment safely. If you have any questions or are looking for more resources please feel free to email me at

For pictures of the Ham Lake Fire go here.





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