Bonfires are a fun way to enjoy the outdoors, but with the fun comes responsibility. Review this safety guide before your next bonfire!
Ensure the location you are in permits bonfires. Many parks, campgrounds and even some cities and towns prohibit bonfires.
Do not build fires in hazardous or dry conditions.
Before creating a location, check if the campground you are at already has a fire pit.
When creating a fire pit, locate is 15 ft away from all tents, structures, trees, shrubs or other flammable objects, including low hanging branches.
The location should be level and in an open area away from any piles of brush, logs or branches.
Take the wind into consideration and find a location protected from gusts.
Clear any grass, twigs, leaves and firewood around a 10 ft radius of the pit.
Dig a pit in the dirt 1 ft deep.
Surround the pit with rocks.
Make sure you have a source of water, bucket and shovel nearby.
Gather 3 types of wood: Tinder, Kindling and Fuel.
Loosely pile a few handfuls of tinder in the center of the pit. Add kindling in one of the four methods (Teepee, lean-to, cross, log cabin).
Ignite the tinder with a match or lighter.
Wait until the match is cold, then discard into the fire.
Add more tinder as the fire grows.
Blow lightly at the base of the fire.
Adding kindling and fuel as well as larger firewood to keep the fire going.
Keep the fire small and under control.
Maintaining and Extinguishing
Never cut down trees or branches, even if they are dead! Dead trees are often home to birds and other wildlife.
Once you have a strong fire burning, add larger pieces of dry wood to keep the fire burning steadily.
Do not burn dangerous things like aerosol cans, pressurized containers, glass or aluminum cans as the could explode, shatter, or create harmful fumes or dust.
Keep the fire a manageable size.
Make sure children and pets are supervised by the fire.
Never leave a fire unattended.
Allow the wood to burn completely to ash, if possible.
Pour lots of water on the fire to down all of the embers (pour until the hissing sound stops).
You can also stir dirt or sand into the embers with a shovel to bury the fire.
With your shovel, scrape any remaining sticks and logs to remove embers.
Be sure there are no embers still smoldering or exposed.
Continue to add water, dirt or sand and stir until all material is cool.
If it is too hot to touch, it is too hot to leave!
Tinder - small twigs, dry leaves and needles
Kindling - smaller sticks
Fuel - larger pieces of wood
Teepee - lay kindling over the tinder like you're building a tent (good for cooking)
Lean-to - drive a long piece into the ground at an angle over the tinder and lean small pieces of kindling against the longer piece (good for cooking)
Cross - crisscross the kindling over the tinder (good for long lasting fires)
Log Cabin - surround your pile of tinder with kindling, stacking pieces at right angles, top the cabin with the smallest kindling