Sparking a Safety Conversation around Campfires and Fireworks
Posted on 06/27/2023

By: Daphne Gallegos, MPH – Childhood Injury & Violence Prevention Public Health Educator
Welcome to the first post in the summer safety series, where we are covering campfire and firework safety! Campfires and fireworks are some of the most exciting parts of summer. Who can deny a warm and gooey s'more or a dazzling sparkler on a warm summer night? I know I can't! However, before we get carried away with the chocolatey, sparkly fun, it is important to understand how to stay safe during these activities.
After all, even just stepping away from a campfire for 5 minutes or mishandling fireworks is enough to cause great personal and environmental harm and injury. Fortunately, being safe is easy while handling fireworks or enjoying a campfire. Here are a few tips to help you stay safe this summer:


As far as campfires go, here are some great tips found from ReserveAmerica, a company helping visitors around North America explore the outdoors since 1984, and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA):

  1. 1. Build a safe campfire  

Before setting up a campfire, first check to see if it is permitted, and if so, campfires are required to be 25 feet away from any structure, according to NFPA.  

    • It's important to build a safe campfire by clearing away any dry leaves or sticks around the area and you can use them to start the fire.
    • Next, add kindling with small twigs and sticks less than an inch round (diameter).
    •  As the fire builds, you can add the largest pieces of wood to the fire, keeping the fire burning longer.

"Never use gasoline or other flammable or combustible liquids," according to the NFPA. Your fire does not have to be roaring, but a small fire by rocks will give off plenty of heat for cooking and staying warm. 

  1. 2. Keep water handy  

Only start a campfire if you have a bucket of water, shovel, and dirt nearby. The water can stop any runaway flames, and the shovel can be used to throw sand or dirt on any flames that start to jump out of your fire ring. You can also benefit from keeping a few feet of ground around your fire pit watered down, so the fire won't gain any traction if it gets too big or the wind picks up.  

  1. 3. Pay attention to the wind  

To prevent your campfire from starting a wildfire, it's important to keep anything flammable, including unused firewood, at least 15 feet away and upwind (25 feet away from any structures). Any strong breeze can instantly spread your fire.  

  1. 4. Never leave a campfire unattended  

There should always be at least one adult set of eyes monitoring the fire at all times. Even in a minute, a small breeze can spread a fire quickly. The NFPA recommends "watch children while the fire is burning and never later children or pets play or stand too close to the fire." If you are planning to leave for a short period of time to take a hike, it is important to completely extinguish the flames and start it up again after returning.  

  1. 5. Put the fire out properly—every time  

When you are done with your campfire, make sure it is extinguished properly. Dump water on the fire, stir the ashes with a shovel, then dump more water on the fire. If the campfire is too hot to touch, it's too hot to leave, and it needs to be cold before you leave it unattended. Larger logs will be more difficult to cool down and extinguish the fire, so soak them with water. Never bury coals from the fire, as they can smolder and start to burn again. Move the stones around the campfire to check for hidden burning embers underneath.  

  1. 6. If your clothes catch fire remember to stop, drop and roll.  

Stop, drop (cover your face with your hands), and roll (over and over, back and forth until the fire is out). Treat the burn right away will cool water for three to five minutes. Cover the burn with a clean and dry cloth, seek medical attention if needed.  




The National Fire Protection Association reports that sparklers account for more than 25% of emergency room visits for fireworks injuries, as they can reach about 2,000 degrees which is hot enough to melt some metals. It is important to make sure you are properly handling fireworks to keep you and your family safe.  

When fireworks make an appearance, always be sure to follow the guidelines from the National Safety Council:

  1. 1. Know your local laws before buying or handling any fireworks in your city/town/county.  

  1. 2. Never allow young children to handle fireworks.  

  1. 3. Older children should use them only under close adult supervision.  

  1. 4. Never use fireworks while impaired by drugs or alcohol.  

  1. 5. Anyone using fireworks or standing nearby should wear protective eyewear.  

  1. 6. Never hold lighted fireworks in your hands.  

  1. 7. Never light them indoors.  

  1. 8. Only use them away from people, houses and flammable material.  

  1. 9. Never point or throw fireworks at another person.  

  1. 10. Only light one device at a time and maintain a safe distance after lighting.  

  1. 11. Never ignite devices in a container.  

  1. 12. Do not try to re-light or handle malfunctioning fireworks.  

  1. 13. Soak both spent and unused fireworks in water for a few hours before discarding them.  

  1. 14. Keep a bucket of water nearby to fully extinguish fireworks that don't go off or in case of fire.  

15. Never use illegal fireworks. 


Following these tips can help you have a safe experience with family and friends. If you are looking for some fun but safer options, consider glow sticks, confetti poppers, or colored streamers.

Feel free to contact your local fire department and health department for any questions you may have and check out these other great resources for more information on summer safety