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Boreal Emergency Preparedness Portal

Smokey Bear’s Campfire Safety Guide

Jan 27, 2018 09:26AM ● By Editor
Keep your camp re from becoming a wild fire!


• Choose a spot that’s protected from wind gusts and at least 15 feet from your tent, gear, and anything ammable.

• Clear a 10-foot diameter area around your camp re spot by removing leaves, grass, and anything burnable down to the dirt. 

• Don’t build your camp re near plants or under tree limbs or other ammable material hanging overhead.

• If allowed, dig a pit for your camp re, about 1-foot deep, in the center of the cleared area.

• Build a re ring around the pit with rocks to create a barrier.

• Don’t use any type of ammable liquid to start your fire.

• Gather three types of wood to build your camp re and add them in this order:

1.  Tinder – small twigs, dry Kindling – dry sticks leaves or grass, dry needles. smaller than 1” around.

2.  Kindling - dry sticks smaller than 1" around

3.  Firewood - larger drier pieces of wood up to 10" round.


  • Keep your re small.

  • Always keep water and a shovel nearby and know how to use them to put out your camp re.

  • Be sure an adult is always watching the re.

  • Keep an eye on the weather! Sudden wind gusts can blow sparks into vegetation outside your cleared area, causing unexpected res.

    AFTER ...

  • If possible, allow your camp re to burn out completely – to ashes.

  • Drown the camp re ashes with lots of water.

  • Use a shovel to stir the ashes and water into a “mud pie.” Be sure to scrape around the edges of the re to get all the ashes mixed in.

  • Drown the ashes with water again.

  • Check that your camp re is cold before leaving. Hold your bare hand just above the wet ashes, especially around the edges of the re. DO NOT touch the ashes or you might burn yourself.

  • If you feel heat, stir more water into the ashes.

  • When the ashes are cold, disassemble your re ring and scatter the rocks.

  • If you built your camp re in a re pit, be sure it’s lled in with wet dirt.

REMEMBER: If it’s too hot to touch, it’s too hot to leave.

© 2012 USDA Forest Service

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