Experts warn of burn risks for kids as campfire ban lifts for several coastal areas of B.C.

The campfire ban in many coastal areas of B.C. has been lifted in time for the Labour Day long weekend, and experts are reminding campers to be careful.

The ban, lifted Friday at noon, means that campfires are now allowed in the Coastal Fire Centre region, save for the southern area of Vancouver Island, where the ban is still in place.

“Although fire danger ratings have declined in much of the Coastal Fire Centre region due to recent rainfall and cooler temperatures, the public is strongly encouraged to continue exercising extreme caution with any campfire,” reads a statement from the BC Wildfire Service.

On Vancouver Island, the campfire ban continues in the South Island Resource District, which covers the southern third of Vancouver Island and extends from Victoria to Union Bay on the east coast and from Victoria to Nootka Sound on the west coast. The ban also covers several islands, including Denman, Hornby, Lasqueti, Gabriola, Salt Spring, Pender and other smaller islands.

The campfire ban in the Kamloops Fire Centre region also persists.

In parts of the province where fires are now allowed, experts are warning families with young children to be careful, as kids are more vulnerable to campfire burns.

“Children just love a fire, they’re super curious, they’re super fast,” said Gayanne Pacholzuk, coordinator for BC Professional Firefighters Burn Fund in Kelowna.

She said BC Children’s Hospital recorded twice as many campfire and fire pit burns in 2020 as it did the previous year. Most of the kids were under age five, which means their skin is thinner and they would have been especially vulnerable to a burn.

“During COVID, everyone was out camping enjoying the great outdoors, so that's something for parents to keep in mind. And some of those injuries seem to be quite serious,” she said.

And it’s not just the flames that caregivers need to be concerned about, Pacholzuk said, but also the metal surrounding the fire pits and any embers that may still be hot the next day.

“Something that might just be hot to an adult could be devastating to a kid,” she added.

Pacholzuk recommends creating a one-metre no-kid zone around any propane fire pits, campfires or barbecues.

“(Young kids) they want to touch everything, they don't have the reaction time that we as adults have either, so we may touch something hot and pull away very quickly. Unfortunately, the children don't have that (same) reaction time, and they may touch that hot surface for a little bit longer,” she said.

Pacholzuk, as well as the BC Wildfire Service, recommend that anyone who is heading out camping should check for local campfire restrictions.

Campfires are defined as anything less than half a metre high and half a metre wide. And while campfires are now allowed in most of the Coastal Fire Centre region, category 2 and 3 fires – which are much larger – are still banned.