Fire Safety Rules
A campfire can keep us warm on a cold night. Campfires can be used to cook our food, too. However, if we’re not careful, fire can become a danger. Here are some tips to be safer when using campfires:
- Select a safe place to build the campfire. Keep it away from trees, shrubs, overhanging branches or tents/buildings. A safe distance is about 12-15 feet.
- Always try to use an existing fire pit or fire place – fires built on the ground will prevent plants from growing there for many years (the soil becomes unable to feed plants).
- Keep the fire contained with a ring of rocks or within a special “fire pit” such as a metal tray or bin.
- Keep a bucket of water, fire hose, or bucket of sand nearby to put out the fire when you are done. A shovel is also helpful to help break up coals and be sure that the fire is fully put out.
Gathering the Right Materials
Gather three types of wood (from the ground – never cut living trees unless it’s life-or-death emergency)
- Tinder (dryer lint, newspaper, small twigs, dry leaves or grass, dry needles)
- Kindling (sticks smaller than 1″ around)
- Fuel (larger pieces of wood)
Building the fire in one of these methods:
- Tepee (Good for cooking) — Lay the kindling over the tinder like you’re building a tent.
- Cross (Perfect for a long-lasting campfire) — Crisscross the kindling over the tinder.
- Lean-to (Good for cooking) — Drive a long piece of kindling into the ground at an angle over the tinder. Lean smaller pieces of kindling against the longer piece.
- Log Cabin (Longest lasting campfire) — Surround your pile of tinder with kindling, stacking pieces at right angles. Top the “cabin” with the smallest kindling.
Do’s and Don’ts for Fires
- Do enjoy the warmth and glow.
- Do feel free to cook over your fire.
- Do make a plan for when you are done so that you have time to properly put out the fire safely
- Don’t burn trash or food (the smell attracts animals)
- Don’t put cans or bottles in the fire – they won’t burn and could hurt people later (glass shatters and cans have sharp edges)
Putting out the fire
- Start early – it takes a while to fully put out a fire: give yourself at least twenty minutes where you stop adding any additional fuel.
- Let wood burn down to ash if possible, if not, sprinkle water over the coals and ash until the hissing and steam stop.
- Stir the remaining coals and ash – sometimes hot spots occur under the logs.
- Don’t touch coals/sticks to see if they’re cool, but you can place the back of your hand near them to detect heat. If they’re still warm, repeat sprinkling with water and stirring with the shovel.
Clean Up Before You Leave!
- Campers should clean up their site of any trash (whether someone else left it or you did. Leave sites cleaner than how you found them.
- If you have leftover wood, leave it neatly piled for the next camper.
Thoughts from the Bible
There is power in fire – we can heat our homes, warm up on cold nights when camping, or even cook meals over a campfire. Sadly, fire can cause destruction, too – wildfires burn down forests and other fires can destroy people’s houses or cars.
There is power in the words we speak – we can encourage other people, make them laugh or comfort them when they’re sad. In the same way that fire can be used for good or can cause destruction, our words can also hurt people’s feelings or damage friendships, too.
In the Bible, there is a section in the Book of James that says “See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire…” If we’re not careful with fire, we can burn down a forest AND if we’re not careful with our words (how we use our mouth and tongue to speak) we could cause just as much damage among the people we care about.
In the Bible, James continues to say “With it (our tongue/our words) we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things should not be this way. Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water? Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh.” We shouldn’t use our words to help AND to hurt – we ought to teach ourselves to always use our words to help other people, but it’s not easy. When we get angry or tired or frustrated we forget and say things that we shouldn’t say.
Ephesians 4:29 New Living Translation (NLT) says “Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.”
We must learn to control our tongues and our speech in order to be consistent (helping instead of hurting). How can we do that?