Why You Should NEVER Leave a Campfire Burning Overnight!

Sitting around a campfire with friends and family is enough to get your mind off life’s struggles. But what if you get so caught up at the moment that you forget to put the fire out? Can you leave the campfire burning overnight

It is best not to leave campfires burning overnight, but to extinguish them instead. Campsites are usually surrounded by nature and flammable tents, which increases the potential for spreading wildfire. But what if you have a fire pit?

Is It Safe to Leave a Fire Pit Burning Overnight?

Fire pits can be a simple holes you dug in the ground or elaborate features. Their role is to contain fires and prevent them from spreading. So, will it be enough to keep your fire at bay overnight?

Leaving a fire pit burning overnight is unsafe, as it can lead to fire-related injuries and even fatalities. NBC News reports 5,300 fire pit injuries, of which a quarter are children under five. 

The shocking part is that most of these injuries occurred when the fires had no more flames. But the risk of hot coals and embers isn’t the first thing a child or animal will think about. So, for you and your family’s safety, it would be wise to put a fire out completely before going to bed. 

Related Read: 20 Beginner Camping Tips 

Top 3 Reasons You Shouldn’t Leave a Fire Pit Burning Overnight

While fire injuries are common when using fire pits, there are other grounds for not letting your fire pit burn overnight.

The top three reasons you shouldn’t leave your fire pit burning overnight include:

  1. It’s illegal to leave a recreational fire burning overnight in the USA.
  2. A recreational fire can get out of hand quickly.
  3. Even when the fire doesn’t have flames, it can still reignite. 

So, suppose you own a fire pit. Then, it’s a good idea to read each explanation to best prepare and protect your home, family, and surrounding environment. 

It is Illegal to Leave Recreational Fires Burning Overnight in the USA

While having a fire pit is a hot commodity and a growing popular outdoor feature, understanding the laws surrounding it is essential.

It is illegal to leave a recreational fire burning overnight in every jurisdiction in the USA. At the same time, some local governing agencies have laws and regulations for residential fire pits. 

So, it’s a good idea to check with your local governing agencies to see if you’re allowed to have a fire pit in your yard. And if you are, what regulations should you follow to ensure your neighborhood’s safety?

A Recreational Fire Can Quickly Become a Wildfire

No matter how careful you are, your fire can get out of control quickly. It only takes a sudden unexpected gust of wind to help the fire reach items nearby.

Wind can sweep flames and embers and set fire to nearby flammable items. These are usually chairs, fabric pillows, and even wood-built homes. And once it reaches these items, it takes a mere 5 minutes to get out of control, causing destruction and mayhem. 

Related Read: Camping Checklist and Essential Gear

Embers Can Reignite a Fire

A fire doesn’t need flames to be still burning. So, it would be best if you also considered the tiny burning embers. 

Embers have a risk of reigniting for 12 hours after a fire is flameless in the right conditions. If it gets enough airflow or lands on a flammable object, it can cause unpredicted fires. And suppose you’re not there to supervise it. In that case, it can turn into a destructive fire, risking the safety of your home, family, and surrounding environment. 

Recreational Fire Safety Tips

While you mustn’t leave a campfire or fire pit burning overnight, there are things you can do to minimize the risk of damage. So, whenever you make a recreational fire, keep the following fire safety tips in mind:

  • Put your fire pit in an open area: Ensure the fire is in an open space, away from flammable objects. For example, ensure it’s not close to overhanging trees, chairs, or your home. That way, rogue embers won’t have anything to cling to and start a new fire. 
  • Ensure the fire pit materials are non-flammable: If you make a fire in a fire pit (whether you bought it or made it yourself), ensure the pit materials won’t catch fire. 
  • Check your local weather reports for wind prediction: If the weather reports predict strong winds, it’s a good idea to take extra precautions around a fire. The stronger the wind, the more likely it can sweep flames or embers and wreak havoc.
  • Let the fire burn down: About an hour before retiring for the night, let the fire burn without adding new wood or flammable items. That way, the fire won’t have enough fuel to burn through the night and minimize potential wildfire risks. 
  • Put the fire out with water or sand: It doesn’t matter if your fire doesn’t have flames anymore. You still have to put it out by suffocating it with sand or drenching it in water. 
  • Ensure there are no embers left: It would be best if you stir the ashes to ensure no embers or hot coals are left. That’s because embers and hot coals can still reignite up to 24 hours after the fire is flameless. 
  • Consider a spark screen: A spark screen is usually a dome-shaped screen that you place over the fire in your fire pit. It prevents embers from flying away, thus preventing them from setting flammable items nearby. 
  • Check your surroundings: Before going inside, ensure any flammable items are away from the pit, no matter how well you implemented the other safety tips. For example, take chairs, blankets, or wood close by away from potential embers that might escape at night. 

The Bottom Line

It’s never a good idea to leave a fire unsupervised, let alone burning overnight. While it poses significant safety hazards, it’s prohibited by law to let a fire burn through the night in the US. 

So, the best way to keep yourself, your family, and your surroundings safe is to prioritize fire safety. Whether camping with the family or having a cozy fire in a pit at home, it doesn’t matter. The better your fire safety techniques, the lower the risk of wildfires wreaking havoc. 

Last Updated on November 3, 2022

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