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Campfire Safety Tips for Scouts

As a boy scout, it’s essential to know how to create a fire. But it’s equally important to know how use fire responsibly. The following tips will help you learn how to build, maintain and extinguish a fire safely:

Choosing the proper location

Whether you’re in the wilderness or at a campsite with preexisting fire pits, it’s imperative that you choose a suitable location to build your fire. Make sure to pick up all ignitable debris within a 10-foot radius. Additionally, there should be no overhanging branches close to the site. This way, you can help minimize the chance that the fire spreads.

Building and maintaining the fire

Once you’re ready to build your fire, you should gather tinder (dry leaves, grass, vegetation), kindling (small twigs and sticks) and fuel (larger pieces of wood). Once you’ve gathered the proper materials, scatter a few piles of tinder in the center of your fire bed. Then, add the kindling using the teepee, cross, lean-to or log cabin method.

1. Teepee – Lay the kindling on top of the tinder as if you’re forming a tent or teepee.
2. Cross – Crisscross the kindling on top of the tinder.
3. Lean-to – Stick a long piece of kindling into the ground at around a 30-degree angle over the tinder. Then, lay smaller pieces of kindling against the big piece.
4. Log cabin – Enclose your tinder pile with kindling, stacking them at 90-degree angles as if you’re playing Lincoln Logs.

Once you’ve added the kindling using one of these methods, ignite the kindling with a match or lighter. Add more tinder as the fire grows and blow at the base of the fire to give it the necessary oxygen. Remember to keep the flames small and under control. Always keep a shovel/water nearby in case you need to put out the fire quickly. Most importantly, you should never leave a burning campfire unattended – even for just a few minutes.

Extinguishing the fire

You may be surprised at how long it takes to thoroughly extinguish a fire. Consequently, plan on giving yourself at least 20 minutes to do so. First, allow the firewood to burn down to ash. Then, sprinkle as much water as you need to completely smother any remaining burning embers. At the same time, use a shovel to stir and scrape the ashes to make sure everything gets wet. Continue this process until you can no longer hear a simmering sound or see any steam coming from the fire pit. Once your fire is completely extinguished, scoop up the ashes and spread them around the campsite. This way, you won’t leave the next campers with a pit full of old ashes.

Home fire safety

You can also apply your knowledge of outdoor fire safety to help protect your home. While taking the proper safety measures will greatly reduce the risk of home fires, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. For that reason, you should have at least one working smoke alarm installed on every level of your home. Most residential security companies, such as ADT, offer smoke detectors as part of a total home safety package. Make sure to test them at least once per year to make sure they are working properly.