building a safe campfire

When you are on a hiking trip in the bush, understanding how to light and tend a campfire safely prevents accidents, injuries and bushfires.

Choose nature

  • Campfires consume wood that native animals use as homes, so consider whether you really need one and could take a fuel stove instead.

Safe Campfires

  • Do not use stoves or naked flames to cook during a Total Fire Ban or Park Fire Ban. In some circumstances, you may use a stove inside a hut. Check with the park office before the trip.
  • National Parks and Wildlife service do not permit camp fires in some national parks except in fireplaces provided by the park. Again, check before you go.
  • Never leave a campfire or stove unattended.
  • Supervise pets and children around campfires.
  • Never burn aerosol cans, as they may explode.
  • Never put glass in the fire pit, as it heats up and shatters, leaving dangerous broken slivers of glass.
  • Never burn aluminium cans, which break down into smaller pieces and create harmful aluminium dust.
  • Pack out all rubbish.

How do I light a campfire?

For more information, see How to light a camp fire by lotsafreshair.

Ensure camp fires are thoroughly extinguished to prevent bush fires

  • Extinguish all campfires and flames before going to bed
  • Pour plenty of water on the fire to drown all embers, not just the red ones, until the hissing sound stops
  • Stir ashes and embers with a stick or shovel, then scrape the sticks and logs to remove any embers
  • If you do not have water, mix dirt or sand with the embers, stirring until all material is cool
  • Do not bury the fire as it will continue to smoulder and could catch roots on fire that could start a bushfire. People could also walk over it inadvertently and get burned.
  • Do not touch a camp fire that appears to be out, as a poorly extinguished campfire retains heat for many hours.

Campfire accidents

  • If a camper’s clothes catch fire, stop them from running, push them to the ground and roll them over to extinguish the flames
  • If a camper is burnt by a campfire do not apply lotion, ointment or alcohol.
  • Rinse the burn in running water for 20 minutes for example in a creek or river.
  • Treat the patient for shock and apply a non-stick dressing.
  • Seek medical aid as soon as practicable if the wound is larger than a 20 cent coin.