Thursday, July 18, 2024
The Parents' Voice

Campfire Safety

As a child, my family camped all summer long, I remember loving it so very much. I have so many fond memories of swimming, meeting new friends, running through trails, investigating new campgrounds and roasting marshmallows. I was the kid who loved sitting around the campfire with a blanket listening to the adults. It was so relaxing, and cozy and my absolute favorite way to end a summer day.
With forest fires taking over parts of Quebec this past spring there haven’t been many opportunities to enjoy campfires thus far. Currently, the ban has been lifted and you are able to have a fire in a screened in appliance, however this can change throughout summer months. Check your local municipality for fire bans before deciding to have a campfire.
Like adults, babies and children also love campfires, however, they know nothing of the dangers campfires can present. The heat, the beautiful flames and the crackles can entice a child just as much as adults. As long as you familiarize yourself with campfire safety, and teach your little ones about the dangers you’ll have no problem keeping them safe around campfires this summer.

  • This is going to sound obvious but always supervise your child around the campfire. Of course, this is one we wouldn’t even blink at, but one look away could result in a step too close to the fire, a push off a chair, a poke in the eye by a S’mores stick, anything really. Sometimes we get distracted with something else that needs doing, but when it comes to campfire time, make sure to switch off watching your little one with another adult if you need to be away from the fire. Adults are of the utmost importance here since we know of the real dangers of fire, older siblings are often great helpers with siblings, but when it comes to fire it simply can not be left to chance, always have another adult near by to help with supervision.
  • Safety Rules for kids to follow: I’m a big believer in talking, discussing and explaining. We have a few rules around our campfire. We discuss them and why they’re important and remind them of the rules before and during our campfires. Our rules consist of always walking behind the chairs (you could even draw a line in the sand or use chalk to have a visual for how close they can get to the fire) when we’re at the fire, there’s no running or jumping near the fire and you must ask an adult before they are able to roast a marshmallow. It’s also best to discuss fires, why they’re built, how people use them, why it can be dangerous, how hot fire is, what burns are and how you get burnt. Kids soak up new information and will usually understand the dangers if they are explained them.
  • Before safety rules or concerns, you also must make sure you know how to build a safe fire. Make sure that you are in an open space with no tents, trailers, branches, trees or houses too close by. Use the proper materials for around your fire pit (rocks, dirt, twigs), make the hole deep enough (I’ve read two feet wide and six inches deep.) Be aware of fire bans, be certain to check before starting up your fire to keep your family safe, as well as those around you. Always have a fire extinguisher ready. This doesn’t have to be an actual fire extinguisher. It could be a bucket of water or sand. If using sand make sure to have a shovel so that you can shovel the sand on and pat it down. If using an extinguisher, make sure it’s far enough away so that it wont bust from the heat, but close enough to reach in case of an emergency.
  • As tempting as it is to cave to the whines of “I want to make my own s’more,” don’t let toddlers toast their own marshmallow. Little kids are still often very clumsy, it would be very tricky and dangerous to have them attempt to cook their own marshmallow over a fire. Make sure to tell them that cooking the marshmallows is an adult job, give them a job like holding the marshmallow bag in their lap, on their chair. This will keep them safe and allow them to be part of the process. In addition to this, don’t let them blow out their own marshmallows if they’re on fire, this could lead to burns on their face.
  • Teach them that fire pits, coals and ashes are not ever to be touched. Long after a fire is extinguished, the coals keep their heat. It can take as long as 24 hours before the coals have cooled and are no longer at risk of re-igniting or burning. It is never safe to play in the coals of a fire pit.
  • Come to the fire prepared so that you don’t have to run into the house, cottage or camper for anything. If you’re having marshmallows or s’mores make sure to search out the campfire sticks before the fire has started. Have wipes or washcloths for dirty hands and anything else you may need on hand.

There are still lots of ways to enjoy the campfire as a family, the key is to stay safe and be vigilant. Have fun and make some new memories or traditions.

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