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How to keep your campfire safe

Even experienced campers need a refresher now and again on the best ways to start, maintain and extinguish a campfire.
Marshmallows and campfire
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February 05, 2018 06:18 PM

Follow this step-by-step guide to learn how to make sure your next campfire is safe for everyone.

Check for restrictions
When you get to the campgrounds, check to make sure it’s OK to light a campfire. If you’re camping in the backcountry, be sure to check for any fire restrictions before heading out. Depending on weather conditions—if it’s especially dry or windy, for example—fires may be limited to charcoal or forbidden altogether.

If the hosts have put the kibosh on open fires or if weather conditions prohibit them, take a portable fireplace with you. The Pack-Away™ Portable Fireplace and Grill is perfect.

Gather and prep
As a general rule, fires should only be built within a fire ring, as it helps contain the flames. Before it gets dark, make sure you have a ring around your fire. Most campsites already have them in place, but if yours doesn’t, grab some larger rocks and place them in a circle or bring along a fire pit ring.

Next it’s time to gather dry wood. You’re looking for three different types: tinder (either fire starters you purchase or small twigs and sticks from the campsite); kindling (larger sticks a little smaller than an inch in diameter); and fuel (large sticks or small logs, which can be purchased beforehand to make things easier).

father son campfire marshmallows

Start the flame
When you’re ready to roast marshmallows and tell ghost stories, begin building your fire. If you’re looking for tall flames, start by putting a small pile of loose tinder in the middle of the pit. Then add a pyramid of kindling over that, creating a shape that resembles teepee poles. Be sure there’s space between the sticks to allow air to circulate.

Once you’re ready to light the fire, use a long lighter or match to ignite the tinder underneath. Blow lightly on it to keep it going. As the fire grows, continue placing bigger and bigger pieces of wood around the fire and then crisscross on top of the fire once the teepee collapses. Again, remember to leave enough space all around for air to get in and out.

Extinguish the flames
When you’ve finished enjoying your campfire, make sure the fire is completely out before you go to sleep or leave your campsite. Extinguish the fire by pouring water on it, stirring the ashes and pouring more water on it until there is absolutely no smoke, steam or hissing when the water hits.

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