PHIPPS and Smokey Bear’s guide will keep your campfire from becoming a wildfire.


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

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

Don’t build your campfire near plants or under tree limbs or other flammable material hanging overhead.

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

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

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

Gather three types of wood to build your campfire and add them in this order:

Tinder: small twigs, dry leaves or grass, dry needles.
Kindling: dry sticks smaller than 3cm in diameter.
Firewood: larger, dry pieces of wood up to about 10” around.

Keep your fire small.

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

Be sure an adult is always watching the fire.

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


If possible, allow your campfire to burn out completely – to ashes.

Drown the campfire 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 fire to get all the ashes mixed in.

Drown the ashes with water again.

Check that your campfire is cold before leaving. Hold your bare hand just above the wet ashes, especially around the edges of the fire. 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 fire ring and scatter the rocks.

If you built your campfire in a fire pit, be sure it’s filled in with wet dirt.
Use This Checklist to Make Sure Your Campfire is Safe.


Light a fire only when an adult is present and in charge.
Keep young children and pets away from the fire.
Make sure your campfire is a safe distance from your tent or anything that can burn.
Use rocks to create a fire ring in the center of a large cleared area.
Use the Drown-Stir-Drown-Feel method to put out your campfire safely.


Don’t start a campfire when it is windy.
Don’t leave a fire unattended.
Don’t leave your fire without first putting it completely out.
Don’t use flammable liquids to start a campfire.
Don’t extinguish a campfire with just dirt or sand —add H2O!
Don’t bury warm/hot coals or ashes in a campfire pit.
Don’t burn glass, cans, plastics, or garbage in your campfire.
Don’t play or goof around near a campfire.