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A campfire. Did someone say we need a campfire?

Nothing beats the back to nature experience of going camping. When you plan your next camping getaway, do it with safety in mind. You'll be more relaxed, and comfortable, with the piece of mind that you're doing it right.

Of course camping wouldn't be complete without a campfire. But whether you're building one for cooking, warmth, or just for that campfire atmosphere, there are a few things you should do first.

Choose a spot that's upwind, and at least 3.5 meters (15 feet) from your tent (made of flame retardant material of course). A spark from a fire could land on your tent, or camping gear and catch fire.

Building a fire.

If your site has a designated fire pit, then check to see that it's in good repair, and free of hazards.

If it doesn't, look for an area of bare ground for your campfire site. Clear a 3 meter (10-foot) diameter area around the site. Get any grass, twigs, needles, firewood, or anything else that can catch fire, out of the circle. Also make sure there aren't any trees, or combustibles overhead.

Build a circle or rocks around your fire, to keep it from spreading.

Have a bucket of water, or sand, or even a shovel close by, just in case the fire gets away on you.

Never use gas, or any other flammable liquid to get your fire started. Instead, use crumpled up newspaper and kindling.

Stay with your fire.

Sure there are lots of distractions, and other things to do while camping, but once you've started that fire, it's your responsibility to stay with it at all times.

Keep your campfire safe from children and pets. Whether they're snuggling by the warmth of the fire, roasting marshmallows, or just playing and having fun, make sure that they're always being supervised, to prevent any accident.

Things to watch out for with campfires

Never build a campfire on a windy day. Sparks and other burning material could travel large distances.

It may be tempting to get a roaring fire going, but try to keep your fire to a reasonable, and manageable size.

Now that you've enjoyed the fire, let's make sure that it's totally extinguished. Pour lots of water on the fire. Thoroughly drown it out. If you simply cover it with sand or dirt, the fire may be out, but heat will remain, and could cause someone harm.

Be sure you never walk away from any smoldering embers. An unwanted fire, or tragic burn could result. Don't leave a fire until it's "OUT COLD".

Now that the fire is out...

So you've had a great day, the fire is out, now it's time to turn in. But before you do, remember!

Never use any flammable liquid (gas, kerosene, propane etc.) burning appliance inside your tent. Not only could a fire result, but you could also be exposing yourself to carbon monoxide poisoning. Steve Thomas

A heater in a tent is potentially hazardous as well.

If you need a light in your tent, use a flashlight or battery powered lantern.

One more thing, always be sure to hide your picnic baskets from those mangy bears!




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