Unless you would like to be responsible for burning down your campsite and destroying acres of forest, you might want to educate yourself on how to maintain a safe campfire. If you figure that you can use your common sense, you are right, but it is important to refresh that sense often. Every year there are multiple brush and forest fires and it is estimated that a significant number of them are caused by campfires that are poorly maintained.
So to maintain a safe campfire, just remember CROWD.
Clear the area under the fire pit and for at least 4 feet around. No combustibles, no leaves, no grass. Just dirt. You are a combustible, but you are able to put out a cinder that hits you, so don’t worry about that. It is also important that you keep your pile of wood that you intend to use to feed the fire a safe distance from the campfire. If sparks and cinders can hit the pile of wood, the pile is too close.
Ring the fire pit with rocks. You want to find the largest stones available. This will give you a physical representation of how big the fire should get. The big rocks are also useful to prop a cook stick on so your hands don’t get tired roasting the hot dog. Additionally, the rocks serve as a border for people walking, meaning that they will direct people away from your fire.
Observe the fire. Keep your eye on it and the hot cinders flying about. Never leave that fire unattended. No, not ever. It is not okay to leave the fire unattended if you are going to bed, and it is equally unacceptable to leave your fire smoldering if you are going on a day trip. Better safe than sorry, so keep an eye on your fire at all times.
Water should always be available, just in case. So have a pot or a bowl or even a fire extinguisher (although that is not water) handy. Ony handy technique is to do the following: When you are done with your cooking pot, it is useful to fill it with water to let it soak and keep it somewhat near the fire. The heat of the fire warms it and loosens food and the water in the pot is also a nifty extinguisher if needed.
Dropping things in your fire is a bad idea. If something needs to go in there to be consumed by the lovely flames, be gentle and careful. If you drop junk into your fire, or even throw things, often a bunch of sparks will fly out, endangering your surroundings. If kids want to sling sticks into the fire, take the opportunity to teach them good fire safety rules.
So now you know. Remember C-R-O-W-D: Clear, Ring, Observe, Water and Drop. And don’t crowd the fire either, lest you get burned.