It’s the end of the night. Everyone has had their fill of marshmallows and s’mores. The ghost stories were a hit with the kids, and they’ve started to fall asleep while gazing at the stars. You pick them up and put them in your tent or RV before they fall asleep.
But now, it’s just you and the fire. You sit outside gazing at it for a few moments before it’s time for you to go to bed, yourself. You don’t need to keep the fire going all night, and you want to be safe and ensure it doesn’t grow into a bigger fire. It’s time to put out the fire. This is how to put out a fire pit.
Every year, people end up in the emergency room for campfire-related burns. In 2017 alone, at least 5,300 injuries were reported from emergency rooms across the United States, three times the numbers that were reported eight years earlier. Putting out your fire safely will make sure you and your loved ones can end your camping trip on a good note.
Step 1: Let the fire go until it’s nothing but embers
This is a lot easier than it sounds. Unless the kids went to bed right after eating their fill of cooked campfire food, marshmallows, and s’mores, it’ll take less time than you realize to wait. This is the time to tell ghost stories with the kids or sing campfire songs like they do in kids’ TV shows.
If you’re on a campsite where you’re near other campers, there will probably be a visitor or two coming around to see what you’re up to. Campsites are naturally social, so people may come around and see what’s going on around them. Your fire will go down to embers before you realize it’s happening.
Step 2: Spread the ashes and embers to cool them down faster
For this tip, you’re going to need either a shovel or a long stick. When the fire is down to embers, or ashes, you’ll spread the ashes in a circle in the fire pit. That way, none of the embers are touching, and you’ll get to the next step much quicker.
If any hot embers are touching, the fire isn’t ready to be put out yet. You don’t want to pour water at this stage because you’ll create a dangerous cloud of steam
Step 3: Pour water over the spread-out ashes
When you’re confident in the flames going out, go ahead and take a bucket filled with water and hold it a few feet above your fire pit. Then carefully pour the water over the remaining embers. You want to hold it up over the embers so there are fewer chances of getting burned by steam and unexpected sparks.
However, if you don’t have any water with you, you can use dirt for this step. Fire needs oxygen to survive, so if you’re cutting off the air supply to the fire, water and dirt will work.
Step 4: Stir the pit
When your fire pit has been saturated with water or dirt, take you shovel or stick and stir it around in the pit. If there’s any chance of an ember somehow being untouched by the first flow of water the stirring will expose it and cool it down.
Mixing the water with the dirt will double the effect of drowning out whatever remaining flames could be in the fire pit.
Step 5: Pour the water over the pit again
If there are still any embers floating around in your firepit after the mixing, this will be the final move to drown them out. Whatever oxygen that fire could’ve had to survive isn’t going to get to it anymore
Step 6: Feel the pit then repeat
Be very careful when you’re doing this step! Wait a few minutes before you do this step to give the embers time to cool. After that, use your best judgment on when to feel the pit. If you can’t put your hand in the pit, then you need to repeat steps three and four until it’s cool enough for you to touch the firepit. Don’t risk an injury!
If you have to keep repeating the steps until the ground is cool to the touch, that’s okay. The last thing you need is a burned hand when you’re trying to properly put out the flame. Don’t get discouraged if you have to repeat yourself! It’s better to do that than end up in the emergency room!
Step 7: Check your area for escaped embers or sparks
Sometimes, an ember can get away from the firepit. This could happen if it’s a windy night, or if a spark jumped out when you were pouring water over your fire pit. If you see an escaped ember trying to fight for freedom, you can easily smother it with the dirt around it. You can also step on it, as long as you’re wearing shoes when you do so.
Now, your fire is out!
If you followed all of the steps, congratulations! You know how to put out a fire pit! You won’t have to worry about injury or unexpected fines from improperly putting out a fire, nor will you accidentally create a larger wildfire.
According to the National Park Service, nearly 85 percent of all wildfires are started by humans. One of the things humans do to start these fires is leaving their campfires unattended, or not properly putting out their fires. If a wildfire happens because of a neglected campfire, you could face fines or time in jail.
Now that you know how to put out a fire pit, you can rest easy on your next camping trip. When the kids get older, you can teach them how to put out a fire pit too. Camping is a lesson in independence, and the kids will be more confident in their abilities when you give them more responsibilities and jobs.
Now that you know what you’re getting into, enjoy your first camping trip!
See you at the camp site!