Only you — and your Scouts and Venturers — can prevent Scouting fires.
Follow the 10 tips to minimize fire risk and be prepared for that rare moment when a fire does break out on your Scouting adventures.
These and other fire-prevention ideas can be found on the 59-cent Unit Fireguard Plan Chart, available at ScoutStuff.org.
1. Assign a fire warden and deputy
For Cub Scout camps, these are adults.
For Boy Scout or Venturing camps, these should be youth leaders under adult supervision.
You could have the same fire warden and deputy throughout the weekend or week of camping, or this role could be alternated with others.
2. Give the fire warden and deputy their duties
These jobs are more than cool titles. The fire warden and his/her deputy should:
- Train all unit members in the fireguard plan
- Know where all fire equipment is located
- Complete the unit fireguard chart
- Verify that all cooking, heating and campfires are completely out when not attended
- Conduct a fire drill once a week at the direction of the camp fire warden
- Report any fire hazards to the camp fire warden, immediately
- Be ready to evacuate and account for everyone in the event of an emergency
- Check fire extinguishers, smoke detectors and carbon-monoxide detectors if the unit sleeps in cabins
3. Know what to do if a fire breaks out
Campers, adult or youth, should never be involved in firefighting.
But if you see a small fire, take immediate action. Time is of the essence. Here’s some examples of fire-control techniques:
- Yell “Fire!” and notify an adult.
- Send someone to seek assistance, send a runner for help, and/or dial the camp office or 911.
- Douse fire with water or sand.
- Smother fire with a lid.
- In the event of a canvas tent fire, simply kick out the end tent poles if it can be done safely.
4. Keep flames out of tents
It’s a no-brainer to camping veterans, but remember some of your Scouts may never have been camping before.
No tent material is fireproof, so enforce the no flames in tents rule at all times. Only allow battery-powered sources of light such as flashlights, headlamps and battery-powered lanterns inside tents.
5. Keep tents away from flames
Just like you shouldn’t bring flames to tents, you also should keep your tent away from flames.
That means being smart about where you set up your tents and keeping them away from cooking areas, fire rings and other areas where flames might appear.
6. Extinguish campfires properly
Make sure fires are cold out. That means you feel the fire area with your fingers.
If it’s still hot, the flames could reignite and cause a catastrophic fire.
Oh, and Smokey Bear thanks you in advance.
7. Keep flammable chemicals away from tents and flames
Don’t use flammable chemicals near tents or fires.
That includes hand sanitizer, bug repellent, spray cans of paint, aerosol deodorant, hair spray and more.
When in doubt, check the product’s packaging for a warning.
Store these items in a safe place, and make sure they’re returned there when no longer in use.
8. Know which chemical fuels are OK and which aren’t
There’s nothing better than cooking up dinner over an open campfire. But that’s not always possible on Scouting outings.
Enter the chemically fueled stoves, grills and burners.
Some, such as alcohol-burning “can” stoves, are so dangerous they’re prohibited in Scouting. Other fuels are safe but should be handled with care.
Be prepared for your next campout by reviewing the relevant section of the Guide to Safe Scouting.
9. Store, handle and use chemical fuels properly
An adult knowledgeable about chemical fuels and equipment should always supervise youth involved in the storage, handling and use of chemical fuels and equipment.
Operate and maintain chemical-fueled equipment according to the manufacturer’s instructions and in facilities or areas only where and when permitted.
Using liquid fuels for starting any type of fire — including lighting damp wood, charcoal and ceremonial campfires or displays — is prohibited.
During transport and storage, properly secure chemical fuel containers in an upright, vertical position.
10. Bring the Unit Fireguard Plan Chart on every campout
The Unit Fireguard Plan Chart, available at ScoutStuff.org, contains everything listed above and more.
Make sure you bring one along on every trip, especially those involving campfires.