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Healthy Families
Fire safety and fun in your own backyard

Fire safety and fun in your own backyard

By Adriane Keen

My husband and I love the traditional Colorado outdoor activities: camping, hiking, rafting, biking and snowboarding. Really, most things our lovely state has to offer.

We were go getters. But, I knew that having a baby would change things and I worried, "How am I going to continue to do the things I love with a baby?"

That's when someone gave me some of the best advice I've ever had. She said, "Don't change your life to suit your baby; raise your baby to love your life."

Obviously, that isn't always possible. We would certainly not take our infant children on class IV rapids or to the top of a 14er, but the advice above brought me out of a defeatist mind set on many occasions.

I was specifically concerned about camping with the kids.

We can hike the Poudre Trail, bike around the block and in the yard and enjoy the river. But, camping? There's nothing like a toddler and an open fire to get your imagination going in the wrong direction!

Honestly, the thought kids toddling around an open campfire was enough to keep me home until one day my husband came up with a brilliant idea. Why not practice fire safety in our own backyard?

Before one of our big family/friend camping trips last year (our son was three and our daughter was about 14 months) my husband and I setup a "test" camp in the backyard.

We cooked turkey dogs, corn on the cobb, made potato salad and had s'mores for dessert. It was amazing. The kids loved it and we didn't have to leave the house!

We talked about fire safety and what to do if there is a fire; our son helped fill the safety water bucket and helped extinguish the flames. It was a learning experience for all, especially me. Since we started these impromptu backyard camping trips, I now trust the kids have a healthy respect for fire and fire safety.

Now, I can relax, enjoy my family time and the beautiful Colorado wilderness.

Here are a few fire safety tips for Children:

  • Always set a boundary between the fire and the children.
  • The fire should be set away from low hanging branches.
  • Clear surrounding areas from objects that catches fire easily.
  • The surrounding area of the fire pit should be covered with sand and dirt.
  • At no point of the time should the children be left unattended with the fire.
  • Adults should be present at all time.
  • Keep the firewood at least 15 feet away from the fire.
  • The torch that is used to lit the fire, stays in the fire.
  • Keep a bucket of water, a fire extinguisher and a shovel nearby for backups.

Adriane Keen works in the community health department at University of Colorado Health

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