On a warm summers evening, by the water’s edge nothing beats roasted marshmallows and scary ghost stories around a crackling fire. A long tradition at the cottage or while away camping. This seemingly harmless tradition can turn quickly into a tragedy if certain precautions are not taken. We had this happen to one of our clients. Their 13 year old son sprayed their camp fire with insect repellant hoping to help the fire spread faster. Unfortunately the can fell into the fire, exploded and burnt the sons friend who was standing nearby. Badly burned, the friend had a long stay in the hospital. Our clients had the emotional trauma of seeing their friend hurt and eventually were faced with a million dollar lawsuit.
Keep these points in mind to help minimize campfire dangers.
Never build a campfire on a windy day. Sparks and embers can travel quite a distance and could set an unintentional fire.
Learn how to safely start a fire without the use of flammable liquids including gasoline, diesel fuel and lighter fuel.
Never spray flammable liquids on a fire.
Always use a fire pit or build a circle of rocks around you fire to keep it from spreading.
Most provincial parks provide a metal fire pit on each campsite.
Don’t make your fire too big and keep a 6-10 foot clearance around it.
Do not start a fire under low hanging branches. If you are permitted to, trim the branches around the fire before lighting.
Don’t keep spare firewood too close to the fire – make sure it is upwind and far enough away so sparks don’t fly into it.
Keep children and pets away from the fire and never leave them unsupervised. Teach children how to stop, drop and roll if their clothing catches on fire.
Make sure your camping gear is set up far enough away from the campfire.
Always make sure you can put out your fire if it gets out of hand. Keep water, a shovel or a fire extinguisher nearby. Finally, make sure your fire is completely out before leaving it.
All it takes is one spark for things to go wrong. An abandoned campfire or one build without save clearance can turn a small fire into a dangerous and fast moving blaze. Be fire smart and stay safe.