Philmont: Using Stoves and Lanterns (BSA)

Date: Mon, 14 May 2001 13:44:58 -0700
From: John LeBlanc <> [address updated 2may07] Subject: [Philmont] Stoves and Fuel

Posted below is the guidelines for camp stoves and lanterns from the Official BSA Guide to Safe Scouting.

I have been repairing and collecting Coleman lanterns and stoves for about 40 years. One of the things more people get into problems with is refueling the stove. Most wait until it runs out of fuel to refuel it. May I suggest that after using the stove for the evening meal and letting it cool down that you refuel it every day whether it needs it or not. The stove fuel tank is the most secure place to store and carry the fuel so if a problem arises with the spare fuel container, the stove is already full. Also you don't have to stop cooking to refuel, a dangerous situation at best.

Probably the next most bad thing is to have to refuel a stove in the rain. water in fuel doesn't work well.

I have a friend with a bad scar from his ankle to knee because he fueled a hot stove. It flashed, caught the uncapped fuel bottle on fire. He paniked and kicked it away and splashed flaming fuel all over his leg. It was a bunch of dumb things all strung together. He told me he had to so it wouldn't catch his tent on fire. That was dumb having it that close to the tent! It can happen to you if you let it.

Anyway, Crews are getting ready to go to Philmont, so I thought I'd post the following as a reminder. Some have to be modified for trail use, but all apply.

John LeBlanc
Eagle Class of 1959
Phirst Philmont Ptrek 1959
Philmont bound in July 2002
My latest adventure was yesterday
Today is not over yet!

Chemical Fuels

Knowledgeable adult supervision must be provided when Scouts are involved in the storage of chemical fuels, the handling of chemical fuels in the filling of stoves or lanterns, or the lighting of chemical fuels. The use of liquid fuels for starting any type of fire is prohibited.

Guidelines for Safely Using Chemical Stoves and Lanterns

  1. Use compressed- or liquid-gas stoves or lanterns only with knowledgeable adult supervision and in Scout facilities only where and when permitted.
  2. Operate and maintain according to manufacturer's instructions included with the stove or lantern.
  3. Both gasoline and kerosene shall be kept in well-marked, approved containers (never in a glass container) and stored in a ventilated, locked box at a safe distance (a minimum of 20 feet) from buildings and tents. Keep all chemical fuel containers away from hot stoves and campfires, and store below 100 degrees F.
  4. Let hot stoves and lanterns cool before changing cylinders of compressed gases or refilling from bottles of liquid gas.
  5. Refill liquid-gas stoves and lanterns a safe distance from any flames, including other stoves, campfires, and personal smoking substances. A commercial camp stove fuel should be used for safety and performance. Pour through a filter funnel. Recap both the device and the fuel container before igniting.
  6. Never fuel a stove, heater, or lantern inside a cabin; always do this outdoors. Do not operate a stove, lantern, or charcoal grill in an unventilated structure. Provide at least two ventilation openings, one high and one low, to provide oxygen and exhaust for lethal gases. Never fuel (example: all liquid fuels, charcoal. etc.), ignite, or operate a stove, heater, or lantern in a tent.
  7. Place the stove on a level, secure surface before operating. On snow, place insulated support under the stove to prevent melting and tipping.
  8. Periodically check fittings on compressed-gas stoves and on pressurized liquid-gas stoves for leakage, using soap solution before lighting.
  9. To avoid possible fires, locate gas tanks, stoves, etc., below any tents since heavy leaking gas will flow downhill the same as water.
  10. When lighting a stove, keep fuel bottles and extra canisters well away. Do not hover over the stove when lighting it. Keep your head and body to one side. Open the stove valve quickly for two full turns and light carefully, with head, fingers, and hands to the side of the burner. Then adjust down.
  11. Do not leave a lighted stove or lantern unattended.
  12. Do not overload the stovetop with heavy pots or large frying pans. If pots over 2 quarts are necessary, set up a separate grill with legs to hold the pot, and place the stove under the grill.
  13. Bring empty fuel containers home for disposal. Do not place in or near fires. Empty fuel containers will explode if heated and should never be put in fireplaces or with burnable trash.

Flammability Warning

No tent material is completely fireproof. It can burn when exposed to continued, intense heat or fire. The most important safeguard is to keep flames away from canvas materials. For this reason, the following safety precautions are emphasized:

  1. Only flashlights and electric lanterns are permitted in tents. No flames in tents is a rule that must be enforced.
  2. Never use liquid-fuel stoves, heaters, lanterns, lighted candles, matches, and other flame sources in or near tents.
  3. Do not pitch tents near an open fire.
  4. Do not use flammable chemicals near tents--charcoal lighter or spray cans of paint, bug killer, or repellent.
  5. Be careful when using electricity and lighting in tents.
  6. Always extinguish cooking campfires promptly.
  7. Obey all fire laws, ordinances, and regulations.

See also:

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