Safety for the campfire chef

Whether it’s a toasted marshmallow or a grilled hot dog, some foods just taste better when they’re cooked over a campfire. When you’re cooking on a campfire, follow these crucial steps to ensure a safe, delicious meal.

Packing the cooler

  • Keep your food in sealed watertight packages. Store meat separate from any other foods to avoid contamination.
  • If you have items that require refrigeration, keep them in the cooler packed with ice and restock the ice frequently. Store the cooler in the shade, and open it as little as possible.

Starting the fire

  • Make sure your fire is away from overhanging tree branches. If you’re creating a pit, circle it with rocks and clear away any nearby brush, grass, or leaves.
  • Keep a bucket of water on hand, and pile your extra wood away from the fire.
  • If you plan to cook with a tripod or grill, set it up before starting the fire to make sure it is sitting on a solid, even base.

Cooking the meal

  • Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before cooking. Bring different utensils to prepare raw and cooked foods, and wash them after use.
  • Use a food thermometer to ensure your meat is cooked to the right temperature.
  • Bring oven mitts to handle any hot cookware. If you’re cooking your meal directly in the coals (whether in a pot or a tinfoil pouch), use tongs to retrieve the food.
  • Once you’re done eating, store any leftovers and put perishable items back in the cooler promptly.
  •  Never bring a grill or cooking stove inside a tent or camper.
  • When you’re done with your campfire, drown it with water to make sure it is completely out before leaving the campsite.

Camping out in your backyard?

Check with your town officials to see what types of fire pits are allowed, or if you need a permit for a campfire.

For more outdoor cooking safety tips, visit