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Camping/Picnicking Safety

Each year, while camping or at the beach, many children and adults are burned by campfires and burning coals. Coals, even when buried in sand, can stay hot for up to 24 hours and can burn anyone who walks or falls on them. Likewise, campfires, fire rings and fire pits are also very dangerous. If clothing ignites, burns can be life threatening.

Hot coals should always be disposed of in designated containers at the beach or camping area. Plenty of water should be poured on coals to cool and completely extinguish the flames. Do not use gas or flame logs near hot coals.

Parents should look out for toddlers and children around campfires. Keep tents, sleeping bags and flammable liquids away from campfires. To reduce the risk of burns:


  • Use a tent made of flame-retardant material.
  • Use a flashlight or battery-powered lantern inside the tent or any other closed space.
  • Heat or flame producing appliances (e.g., lights, heaters, cooking appliances) should never be used inside or close to a tent.
  • When transporting fuel for propane, gasoline or fuel stoves, open the trunk periodically to ventilate fumes from the compartment.
  • Pitch your tent at least 15 feet upwind from grills and fire pits.

Build a safe campfire

  • Secure the proper permit to build a campfire.
  • Scrape away grass and pine needles within a 10-foot diameter of the fire.
  • Use a designated fire pit if available.
  • Build your campfire or cooking fire at least 15- feet downwind from your tent.
  • Have plenty of water readily available prior to building your fire.
  • Adults should always supervise children around fires. Never let small children build a fire, even with adult supervision.
  • Never use a flammable liquid (especially gasoline) to start a fire or hot coals. Explosions can result.
  • Strictly observe all fire laws or ordinances and regulations.

Campfire cooking

  • In the summertime, wear snug-fitting, tightly woven, or short- sleeved garments near campfires and grills.
  • Make certain that everyone knows how to put out a clothing fire: STOP, DROP and ROLL.
  • When cooking or roasting marshmallows, make certain appropriate footwear and shoes are worn-no sandals or open-toed shoes.

Extinguish your fire safely

  • Never leave a fire unattended. Blowing sparks can easily cause something else to ignite.
  • Before you leave your campsite, make sure the fire is properly extinguished. Douse and stir with water.
  • Extinguishing equipment (shovel, bucket of water, fire extinguisher, etc.) is essential for all campers.

Using Propane Safely for Camping

  • Check your propane camping appliances (camper, stove, heater and lantern) before and during the camping season. Paint each connection with soapy water and watch for bubbles. If you detect a leak, call your propane supplier.
  • Never use an open flame to test for propane leaks.
  • Use only approved appliances from an approved testing laboratory such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
  • Make sure your camper is adequately ventilated.
  • DO NOT store propane cylinders indoors or in temperatures above 120° F (49° C).
  • Propane is heavier than air. The vapor will descend to the lowest point, for example, your basement. Avoid entering these areas when a leak is suspected.
  • Only properly trained personnel should attempt modifications to your propane system. Tampering can cause an accident.

Portable Camp Stove and Propane Grill Safety Tips

  • Locate your stove in an open, well-ventilated area away from your camper, tent, sleeping bags, dry wood and shrubs.
  • Secure the stove on a level, non-flammable surface.
  • Before you light the stove, inspect it for cleanliness. If it needs to be cleaned, use paper towel or a sponge dipped in warm, soapy water.
  • Never immerse the stove in water.
  • Check all connections. Before connecting the stove to the propane cylinder, make sure the valve is in the "off" position.
  • If ignition doesn't occur immediately, turn off the gas and wait for fumes to clear, then try again. Always keep your hands and fingers to the side of the burner.
  • Do not use the stove as a heater.
  • Do not leave the stove unattended.
  • Follow the manufacturer's recommendations.
  • Always detach the propane cylinder before transporting the stove.

Propane Camper Cooking/Range stoves
If you smell the familiar "rotten egg" odor of propane:

  • Exit your camper immediately.
  • If there is an outside tank, turn off the gas valve.
  • Extinguish all open flames and immediately leave any area where propane fumes are suspected.
  • Do not light matches or use any electrical equipment. Avoid touching or turning on electrical switches or appliances.
  • Call your propane supplier or fire department from a phone outside the immediate vicinity of your campsite.

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