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Kids and campfires: 11 fireside safety tips

There’s nothing more enchanting than sitting around a campfire as a family, sharing stories and toasting marshmallows. 

If you’re planning a family fire and want to bring your kids up to speed on fireside safety, this guide is for you. We’ll share 11 simple tips to make your campfire as safe as can be.

This post is part of our fire safety series, also including:

1. Never leave the campfire unattended

You should never leave fire unattended, and when kids are around this is especially important. Make sure there is always a responsible adult present, and that kids are never left alone with the fire.

2. Have a fire extinguisher nearby

This could either be an actual extinguisher or a large bucket of water (although not too large that you can’t lift it). It should be close enough that you can grab it if the fire starts to get out of control, and the fire should not be between you and it.

3. Have an escape plan

As with fire safety plans indoors, it’s important to know where to go if your campfire starts to behave unexpectedly. Make sure there’s a clearly understood escape plan, and get any present kids to recite the plan back to you before you start.

4. Put out the campfire properly when you’re finished

While it can be tempting to leave a campfire smouldering until it goes out by itself, we wouldn’t recommend this. Something could fall on the fire (leaves, for instance), or the wind could pick up and get it burning again, or someone could not realise it was still hot and burn themselves.

Putting the fire out properly is the best way to avoid all of these potentialities.

5. Keep the fire area clean 

Once your campfire is extinguished and the area has cooled, make sure to remove any leftover ash and scraps of wood. Starting each campfire in a clean area will help the fire to behave more predictably, making it safer for everyone involved.

6. Keep flammable objects away from the campfire

You should always take care to minimise the risk of anything falling into the fire, and this is especially important with flammable objects like clothes, papers, or even fire lighting materials. One of the easiest ways for a fire to get out of control is for something to fall on it accidentally and catch flame, increasing the size and intensity of the fire as a whole.

7. Avoid playing with lighters and matches

Matches and firelighters should only be used for that reason: lighting fires. Flicking matches, showing off with firelighters, or any other similar activities greatly increase the risk of someone getting hurt, the fire getting out of hand, or even another fire being accidentally started.

8. Keep fire tools out of reach of kids when not used

Using some sort of poker to arrange the fire is a great way to keep it burning efficiently, but these tools should never be used by a child. They should also be kept out of the reach of children to ensure they don’t hurt themselves or anyone else.

9. Have a physical barrier around the fire if possible

The recommendation with fireplaces and other indoor fires is to have a physical barrier around the flame to prevent kids getting too close, or the fire spitting burning cinders out. While this may be trickier to achieve with an outdoor campfire, if you are able to get some physical barrier between you and the fire, we’d recommend it.

10. Failing that, clearly communicate reasons to keep away

Whether or not you have a barrier, be sure to communicate very clearly to everyone present – not just the kids – the reasons to keep away from the fire. Consider designating one person as being in charge of the fire, too.

11. Remove a child from the area if they ignore the rules

If a child ignores the rules and endangers themselves or someone else, we suggest removing them from the area immediately. It’s important they learn that there are consequences for not behaving safely near a fire, and these consequences being levied before anyone is hurt is a good way to enforce how serious they are.

Last but not least, have fun!

With these safety tips in mind, also remember that having a campfire is supposed to be fun! If everyone is clear about the rules and acts accordingly it can be a fantastic way to spend time outdoors as a family.

If you want to read about how to have a good time fireside, check out our other guides:

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