Sitting around a campfire or firepit should be a memorable experience for the right reasons. While campfires and firepits can be safe, they can also be dangerous if not managed with the respect they demand and deserve. With fall in full swing and winter fast approaching, here are 10 safety tips for preventing campfire and firepit accidents:
10 Safety Tips for Preventing Campfire and Firepit Accidents
1. Check the Weather Before You Start a Fire
Good weather can be the difference between a calm and relaxing evening and a potentially dangerous situation. If the forecast calls for gusty winds, it is probably best to save your campfire or firepit for another night. Wind gusts can carry burning embers into your yard or into the woods, they can blow items into your fire, and they can potentially tip over your firepit as well.
2. Never Leave a Campfire or Firepit Unattended
It is never a good idea to leave a campfire or firepit unattended. Even a quick trip to the bathroom or a run to the kitchen for more drinks is a risk that isn’t worth taking. If you need to leave a campfire or firepit for any length of time, make sure someone else will stand watch until you return.
3. Use a Spark Screen (If Possible)
If your firepit has a spark screen, you should use it. These screens help keep burning embers from rising out of the fire and getting blown to other areas. Just keep in mind that your spark screen will get extremely hot, so you will need a sturdy pole with an insulated handle to grab it.
4. Only Burn Dry Native Wood
It is generally best only to burn dry wood in a campfire or firepit. Wet wood, old lumber, cardboard boxes and other items should be avoided. While you can buy firewood at a grocery store or supermarket, some parks and campgrounds will require you to use native wood in order to avoid the risk of introducing tree-killing pests from other areas.
5. Avoid Using Lighter Fluid or Other Accelerants
While it is generally fine to use fire starters, lighter fluid and other accelerants should be avoided whenever possible. Accelerants can cause campfires and firepits to get out of control quickly, and pouring or squirting an accelerant onto an already lit fire can cause flames to jump—potentially catching sleeves on fire and leading to severe burns.
6. Have a Fire Extinguisher or Garden Hose Available
Any time you are starting a fire, it is important to make sure you have a way to put the fire out. Ideally, this means having a fire extinguisher or garden hose on hand. Hopefully, you won’t need these, but if you do, you will be very glad that you have them available.
7. Build a Safe Fire
There are right and wrong ways to build fires. This is true for both campfires and firepits. The U.S. Forest Service provides tips for:
The same basic principles apply to building a fire in a firepit. Even though firepits may seem relatively safe compared to open campfires on the ground, it is still necessary to follow safe fire-building practices. This means starting small, keeping the fire compact and adding wood gradually.
8. Avoid Building a Fire Under Overhanging Trees
The location you choose for your campfire or firepit should not have any overhanging trees or branches. Ideally, you will have clear sky overhead. But, building a contained fire under a high canopy of trees is generally safe as well. The key is not to have anything outside of your campfire or firepit that is close enough to heat up or catch fire from flying embers.
9. Establish Ground Rules
Along with tending to the fire itself, it is also important to establish some basic ground rules. For example, there should be no horseplay near the fire, and children should only be allowed to add wood with a grownup’s supervision.
10. Make Sure the Fire Is Out Before Going to Bed
Finally, before going to bed for the night, you should make sure the fire is out completely. This does not mean covering the fire with dirt—as this can actually insulate the fire and trap heat that keeps the embers burning. You can spread out any remaining logs to disburse the heat, then you can douse the fire with a hose and watch until it stops smoking.
What To Do if Someone Gets Burned By a Campfire or Firepit
If you or someone you love has been seriously injured or killed in a campfire or firepit accident, it is important that you speak with a lawyer about your legal rights. In many cases, victims and their families will have catastrophic injury and wrongful death claims arising out of these accidents. For example, depending on the circumstances involved, a lawyer may be able to help you pursue a claim for just compensation against:
- The Campground or Rental Host – Campgrounds and rental hosts can be liable for failing to provide safe premises or providing unsafe firepits.
- The Homeowner – Homeowners can be held liable for negligently managing backyard campfires and firepits (in most cases, these claims are covered under homeowner’s insurance).
- The Firepit Manufacturer – If a firepit is dangerous because of its design or manufacture, then the manufacturer could be liable in the event of a flareup, explosion, or other serious or fatal accident.
Contact Us for a Free and Confidential Consultation in Columbus, OH
Our lawyers represent Ohio residents and families who need help recovering from fires and other traumatic accidents. If you need to know more about seeking financial compensation for injuries or the loss of a loved one, we invite you to get in touch. To arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with a lawyer at our offices in Columbus, please call 888-444-7440 or tell us how we can reach you online today.