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Teach your kids these basic campfire safety rules so that your next family camping trip is safer and more enjoyable. These bonfire safety tips can be applied to backyard campfires, family bonfires, and at your next campsite!
Campfires are great opportunities for family bonding, especially if you’re doing a bit of a family digital detox. But for them to be fully enjoyed, basic campfire safety rules must be practiced and understood by all members of the family – even young ones.
Learning campfire safety begins the first time you take your children camping (or even before!) Luckily, you can teach your children about campfire safety when they’re young and it’ll stay with them for a lifetime.
Use these campfire safety tips for kids as a guideline to help your family safely enjoy one of summer’s best activities.
Campfire Safety Rules For Parents
Do a Trial Run
An easy way to teach these campfire safety rules beforehand is to play make believe. Grab some campfire toys and teach them all the basic campfire safety rules before you even head to the campsite or have a backyard campfire.
This may also show you where your kids will struggle most and what rules you will need to reinforce more often.
Never Walk Away
You can teach your children every campfire safety rule there is, but it’s still your responsibility to help keep them safe. Never walk away from the fire or take your eyes off your kids (or pets) when the fire is hot. And remember that coals can stay hot and reignite even after you pour water on the fire so you need to keep an eye on them at all times.
Lead By Example
This is an easy, but often forgotten, campfire safety rule for kids and parents. Your children are sponges and are likely to want to copy whatever it is you do. Remember that when it comes to building and managing a campfire.
If you show them how you aim to be safe around a campfire, they’re much more likely to want to do the same themselves.
Bigger is Not Better
When it comes to making a safe campfire, aim for a smaller fire that can more easily be contained. Small fires are less likely to send sparks flying and are less affected by the wind. Keep any extra wood for the fire away from the fire pit and try to keep it upwind.
Pay Attention to the Wind
One of the most basic campfire safety rules for building a campfire or bonfire is wind speed and direction. If it’s too windy, avoid making a fire all together. This can help avoid many campfire accidents.
Avoid Flammable Liquids
A very simple bonfire safety guideline is not to use flammable liquids to ignite or increase the fire. These can quickly cause a fire to get out of control. Instead, try using these DIY campfire starters.
Know Basic Burn Care
If it’s a minor burn, you can easily treat the burn with essential oils or use some of these must-have first aid items for camping. If you’re unsure of what type of burn it is or how to treat it, here’s a great guide to understanding how to treat burns.
Want to help keep your kids away from the fire? Get them their own play campfire set and other camping toys to keep them occupied!
Campfire Safety Rules for Kids
Teach Them Fire Basics
Fires are hot. And they make things around them really hot as well. This is a key bonfire safety rule that needs to be stressed to children. But it extends beyond the fire itself.
Teach your children that everything around the fire can be hot. The fire, the fire ring, campfire cookware, metal chairs nearby, etc.
Give Them a Job to Do
A lot of times, kids just want to be involved. And sometimes that can wind up with them getting hurt if they don’t have an age appropriate thing to do.
If you give them a job to do, this can help. Have them gather sticks or twigs to help you build the fire so they can feel as if they’re contributing in an important way. You could also send them searching for the perfect marshmallow roasting stick.
Set The Boundaries
Campfires are absolutely fascinating to children. Because of this, most childhood burns from campfires are caused by children walking right into or up to the fire. So this outdoor fire safety tip is a great way to help avoid this.
Draw a boundary around the campfire ring even before it’s lit. Use a stick to draw a boundary line around it or, even better, use rocks to mark the boundary lines. This boundary is a small area around the fire ring where adults will be able to load the wood. Explain to your children that no one, other than an adult, is allowed beyond that line.
Remind your kids that they will be older one day and they’ll be able to do this act as well. They’ll look forward to the first time they’re allowed to tend the campfire themselves and consider it a privilege.
Reinforce the message as often as necessary, even when the fire isn’t lit.
Sparks Will Fly
Another necessary basic camping rule to teach kids is about sparks. You can do everything possible to prevent sparks (smaller fires and higher quality wood), but it won’t always prevent them entirely.
Not only is this important for your kids to understand so that they don’t get burned, it’s also important for their possessions. If their toys are too close to the fire, there’s a chance they will end up with a hole burned into them from a spark.
Encourage your kids to keep all of their belongings away from the fire when it’s lit. You may want to draw another boundary line that’s further out if they need a visual reminder of where to clear their toys from.
I would also encourage this area to be a no running or no physical game zone. Suggest quiet activities like reading or a card game instead so kids aren’t as likely to accidentally get too close to the fire ring/fire pit.
You can also use this rule to discuss what types of things will catch fire versus things that won’t catch fire with them.
Extinguishing The Fire
When they’re old enough, your child can learn about a different kind of campfire safety rule: how to extinguish the fire.
While the basic idea of pouring water on the fire should be taught early, the actual act of assisting with it can start as soon as they’re old enough to carry a bucket of water. You can put them in charge of filling a bucket with water and setting it outside the boundary line for extinguishing the fire later.
Have them watch you pour it on the fire when you need to put it out so they understand what happens. Most likely, they’ve been close enough to the fire when it was roaring to know that it emits heat. Once the water has done its job and the fire is out, they can come closer to the fire ring to understand that it’s no longer warm.
This will help them understand that fires are more than something fun or pretty to look at.
Stop, Drop, and Roll
No one wants to think about their clothes catching fire during a campfire, but it’s never a bad idea to teach your children what to do if it happens. This is a fire safety rule that nearly all kids can comprehend, even preschoolers or toddlers.
Children are prone to running if they’re panicked or scared so the first step may be the hardest. If they’re familiar with freezing in place for games, use that idea to help them get the idea of what to do in the event their clothes catch fire.
After that, they need to drop and roll. Teach them is to roll away from the campfire.
If there is someone that can assist, tossing a wet blanket over the person on fire is the last step. This will help extinguish the last of the flames. A fire blanket or low flammable blanket is preferred. Little kids can be taught to do this as well.