Summer Safety Series: Campfire Safety - NYCM Insurance Blog

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May 6, 2019

Summer Safety Series: Campfire Safety

Summer, a renowned time in New York State. It’s almost here so we’ll try to make the most of it, but are you able to enjoy summer-fun safely? 

Indoor fire safety is constantly being stressed, as it should be! Fire is an extremely powerful element which can easily get out of control if it isn’t supervised and properly managed. Fires are common in the summer months and are for the most part started outside. Whether it’s a campfire, fireworks, sparklers, torches, candles, or something else, you need to make sure that you have the resources needed to stay safe prior to starting a fire. 

Campfires and Fire Pits

 Before you can build the s'mores, you need to build a strong and stable fire. Even if you weren’t that kid that grew up adding patches to your uniform , or hiking the Adirondack Mountains, you can still be the adult that builds a strong and safe fire. 

Step 1. Make sure your fire pit is clear of debris. Check the outside radius and area above for potential hazardous and flammable items. Add a perimeter of rocks around the pit. These will help to keep the fire contained and keep you safe. 

Step 2. Have items nearby to help quickly put out the fire, if needed. Items will include water and may also include a bucket and shovel. 

Step 3. Gather tinder, kindling, and wood. Tinder are leaves, straw and twigs. These are used as the base layer for your fire. Kindling are small dead branches you’ll find on the forest floor (Avoid breaking branches off of trees as they may still be alive and won’t burn, or if they’re dead they might be homes to animals). Kindling should be built around and on top of the tinder. After adding kindling you’ll need larger pieces of firewood. Build your larger logs in a tee-pee like formation. This is one of the most sturdy fire formations. Laying the logs down on top of the kindling will pose a challenge for both starting the fire, and create a potential hazard to you as the logs could roll out of the pit and spread the fire or hurt someone close by it. While you’re out looking for these items, also look for a long branch to use as a poker stick to help you manage your fire – and find some strong green branches from trees to be used for s’mores.

Step 4. Use a lighter or match to light the tinder and kindling. A torch lighter is recommended as it is longer, thus keeping your hand further away from the fire. 

Step 5. Enjoy your fire! Keep a close eye on it and remind everyone to keep their distance (This is where long branches for s’mores come in handy!). Avoid adding anything to your fire other than wood. Items like pressurized cans, soda cans, etc. can explode and create serious injury to those close by. Be sure to never leave your fire unattended. 

Step 6. Enjoyed your campfire, but ready to put it out for the day? Use your poker stick to pull any larger logs off the center of the fire and closer to the rocks. Drown the fire in water until all embers have disappeared. Use your nearby shovel and poker stick to help remove them. If you’re fire is too warm to touch, it’s too warm to leave. You might think it’s a good idea to go to sleep and let it burn itself out, but that’s a simple mistake that could lead to a huge disaster. Take the time to be sure your fire is completely out before leaving -- make Smokey proud!