How To Build A Safe Campfire

As wildfires across Canada become a growing concern, here are guidelines from the Ontario Government on preventing forest fires.

Follow these easy steps to build a campfire safely.

1. Choose a site

  • Pick a site close to a water source and sheltered from the wind.
  • Build your fire on bare rock, bare dirt or other non-combustible material (mineral soil).
  • Build your fire at least one metre away from any flammable materials.
  • Make sure the space above the fire is at least three metres from overhanging branches and vegetation.

2. Prepare the site

  • Clear a space about two metres wide for the fire.
  • Remove pine needles, grass, leaves and twigs.
  • Scrape the area right down to the mineral soil.
  • Ensure you have a pail of water and a shovel to control the fire.

3. Build your campfire

  • Keep your fire small to a maximum of one metre high and one metre wide.
  • Remember that small fires are safer, easier to control and easier to put out.
  • A small fire will also keep cooking tools from blackening and let you get close enough to cook.

4. Stay nearby

  • Never leave a campfire unattended.
  • Remember that you are responsible for tending your campfire, ensuring it is kept under control, and for putting it out.

5. Put the fire out

  • Pour lots of water on the campfire.
  • Stir the ashes with a stick.
  • Pour more water over top of the campfire.
  • Stir the ashes with a stick again.
  • Repeat until:
    • the ashes are cold to the touch
    • the ashes don’t hiss
    • the ashes look soaked
    • no more smoke comes from the ashes

Safety tips for kids

  • Always ensure children are with an adult when they are around a fire.
  • Never allow children to play with matches or fireworks.
  • Teach your children to tell an adult immediately if they see a fire burning out of control.
  • Learn more about fire safety from Smokey Bear, including tips on preventing wildfires, and games and activities for kids.