Now that the hotter weather has arrived, many families are gearing up to take full advantage of the summer holidays. What better way to spend quality time with the family than on a camping adventure?
Camping with babies and toddlers can be challenging for sure, but it can also be heaps of fun if you go prepared. One thing you should definitely familiarize yourself with before you set off is campfire safety.
Unsurprisingly, campfires attract babies and toddlers like a moth to a flame. They’re mesmerized by the flames, the heat and even the sound of the fire. However, they don’t yet have any understanding of fire safety. For this reason, the majority of children’s camping related injuries tend to be campfire related.
If you’re looking to keep your little one safe this summer, below you’ll discover the top 8 baby and toddler campfire safety tips.
1. Always Supervise Them Around The Fire
This one might sound a little too obvious, but it’s actually pretty easy to forget once you’re out in the bush. Sure, you may remember to supervise your little one the majority of the time, but with so many things going on around you, it’s easy to take your eyes off them for a few seconds. This is how many toddler campfire incidents occur.
If you find you need to take care of something, ask another adult to keep an eye on your baby or toddler. It’s important to stress “adult” here, as even though older children may be perfectly capable of watching your little one for a couple of minutes at home, around a campfire is a totally different thing. So, it’s always recommended you leave the supervision to adults only.
2. Follow Safety Guideline When Building A Fire
Campfire safety actually starts before a fire has even been built. Did you know there’s a right way and a wrong way to set up a campfire? If you don’t follow certain guidelines, you could end up with an out-of-control fire which can be extremely dangerous, not just for your baby or toddler, but for the whole family.
Ideally, you’ll want to use a pre-prepared fire pit. However, if you don’t have one, it’s worth paying attention to the advice of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service. They recommend choosing a location which is far away from any tents and under the open sky, rather than under branches.
They also suggest the hole for the fire should be two feet wide and six inches deep. It should also be surrounded by either a ridge of dirt, or rocks. Dry leaves, twigs and tinder can be placed into the center, ready to be lit.
3. Keep A Fire Extinguisher Nearby
Now, this doesn’t need to be an actual huge fire extinguisher, but it does need to be something that’s going to help put out the fire if needed. A bucket of water or sand could work really well. If you choose the latter, be sure to have a shovel nearby too to both pour the sand onto the fire, and pat it down to extinguish the flames.
If using an actual fire extinguisher, be sure to keep it far enough from the fire not to be exposed to heat, but close enough to be grabbed in a quick amount of time. Fire extinguishers exposed to heat can become less effective, especially over longer periods of time.
4. Avoid Using Gas Or Denatured Alcohol To Light It
If you’ve ever tried lighting a campfire, you’ll know it’s not as easy as it looks! Therefore, it can be tempting to take along accelerators such as methylated spirits / denatured alcohol and gas to make it easier.
The trouble is, while methylated spirits and gas can definitely help get the fire started, they can also cause the materials to ignite much quicker than you anticipated. You won’t always see the ignition before you get burnt, depending upon which accelerator you have used.
So, if you want to avoid a potentially out-of-control fire, or potentially singed eyebrows, stick to using natural materials such as twigs.
5. Keep The Surrounding Area Clear
As well as ensuring the fire is far enough away from tents and other potential flammable objects, you need to ensure there’s no clutter surrounding it. If things are left lying around close to the fire, there’s a real risk you, or your toddler, could end up tripping over; potentially landing in the fire.
6. Don’t Let Your Toddler Roast Their Own S’mores
What camping trip would be complete without roasting S’mores over the fire? Many families have awesome memories of sitting around, roasting S’mores, laughing and eating together. However, while it can be a wonderful bonding experience, when it comes to toddlers, you should never let them roast their own S’mores.
Even if they’ve mastered feeding themselves, toddlers are still renowned for being clumsy. It would only take a split second for them to burn themselves and it just isn’t worth the risk. So, be sure to tell them the roasting part is an adult job. Additionally, if one of the marshmellows catches on fire, do not let them blow it out. In some cases, burning marshmellows have gotten stuck to children’s faces, resulting in very severe burns.
7. Talk To Them About The Dangers
Toddlers do understand basic rules so it’s a good idea to talk to them about the potential dangers of campfires. Be clear about the rules such as don’t touch the fire, or even go too close to it. You could even mark an area away from the fire with a rock or another object to clearly show them how close they can get.
Don’t just provide a list of rules though. Use it as an educational activity. Talk to them about why fires are built, the potential dangers and how they can safely be interacted with. Toddlers love learning new stuff and they’ll be more likely to follow the rules after a discussion about the dangers of fire. Camping can make for a great learning experience, so pull all the lessons from it that you can!
8. Keep Them Away From The Fire Even After It’s Been Extinguished
It’s easy to forget the dangers of campfires don’t just stop the minute the fire has been extinguished. Unless it is put out properly, the fire could re-ignite, or at the very least, cause burns if it is touched. Hot coals can cause significant burns for up to 24 hours.
So, make sure you properly douse the fire and check that the coals are cold before you head to bed.
Overall, camping can be great fun, even with a baby or toddler! However, when it comes to campfires, it’s essential you follow the safety tips above to avoid potential injury.
Have any campfire tips or stories to tell? We’d love to hear them!