7 important tips for creating a safe campfire

Posted on 24 June 2024 By Savanna Douglas

Unsplash / Joris Voeten


Building a good campfire is one of the most enjoyable parts of camping, especially in winter. However, ensuring that your campfire is safe is important, especially in South Africa, where bushfires can be a significant risk.

Here are some essential tips for creating a safe campfire:

1. Choose the right spot

Selecting the right spot for your campfire is the first step to ensuring safety. Always use designated fire pits if available. If you need to create your own, choose a site at least 10 feet away from tents, trees, and other flammable materials. Clear the area of dry leaves, grass, and twigs, creating a safety zone around your fire.

ALSO SEE: How to add romance to your next camping trip

2. Check local regulations first

Before setting up your campfire, it’s vital to check local regulations and fire bans. South Africa, particularly during dry seasons, may impose fire restrictions to prevent wildfires. Always adhere to these rules to avoid legal issues and ensure the safety of the environment.

3. Build your fire with caution

When building your fire, start with a small amount of tinder such as dry leaves or grass, followed by kindling like small sticks. Arrange your firewood in a teepee or log cabin style for better airflow. Avoid using flammable liquids to ignite your fire, as they can cause uncontrolled flames.

4. Watch the weather

Weather conditions play a significant role in fire safety. Wind can spread embers and increase the risk of a wildfire. If it’s windy, consider postponing your campfire. Always check the weather forecast before starting your fire to ensure it’s safe to proceed.

5. Keep water and sand nearby

Always have a bucket of water, sand, or a fire extinguisher close to your campfire. Additionally, keep a shovel or spade handy to manage the fire and extinguish it completely when you’re done. These tools are essential for quickly addressing any unintended spread of flames.

ALSO SEE: Tips for camping more sustainably

6. Never leave a flame unattended

One of the cardinal rules of campfire safety is never leaving it unattended. Even a small breeze can cause a fire to spread. Always have someone keep an eye on the fire, especially when there are children or pets around.

7. Extinguish fire properly

When it’s time to put out your fire, follow these steps to ensure it’s completely extinguished:

1. Pour water over the fire until the hissing sound stops.
2. Stir the ashes and embers with a shovel.
3. Add more water and stir again until everything is cold to the touch.
4. Make sure no embers are still glowing.

Always be prepared, stay vigilant, and respect nature to prevent accidents and preserve the beauty of SA’s wilderness.

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