A warm and friendly campfire
is also a source of danger.
Anunciation to the Shepherds
by Jean Bourdichon 1503-08
Have a plan to play safe
By Gael Stirler, owner of Renstore.com
I have been camping at Renaissance Faires and SCA events for over 20 years. On two separate occasions I have seen tents burn down, had several close calls, and heard of many others. I've picked up a lot of good advice on how to stay safe around campfires and figured some things out for myself. In this article I'm not going to cover how to build a fire or how to bury and drown a campfire because you can find plenty of websites that will give that information. I want to share some of the safety tips you won't find in the usual places.
I have learned through experience that re-enactment has its own set of dangers that other campers just don't worry about. For instance, long dresses and cloaks can catch fire if you are standing too close to an open fire pit. Once I was sorting laundry after a camping event and found that my Irish Dress was partially burned from hem to knee in the center of the back. Not just scorched, burned! I had know idea that at some time during the event my dress caught on fire then just went out by itself. Perhaps I sat on a damp log or threw a cloak around me that smothered the flames. Whatever put it out, I am grateful. When I saw the burned dress, I was really shaken. I knew I must have been alone or someone would have told me. It was just dumb luck I wasn't harmed.
I've had many other experiences over the last 20 years of camping that have taught me to be more fire conscious. I've set the hem of an apron on fire while cooking over a shallow fire pit. I've got holes in my camp chairs and dresses from embers popping out of the campfire. I've melted a patch of rug with a tent heater and I even treated a drunk who tried to move a firepit with his bare hands. What I have learned is that most accidents could have been prevented with a little preparation and thoughtful behavior...