Fire pits can be a great way to add some warmth and ambiance to your backyard gatherings, but they can be dangerous, too. These tips will help you stay safe while you enjoy the outdoors during the cooler weather.
Choose a Level Surface
Choosing a flat surface for your fire pit offers improved esthetics, efficiency, and safety. More importantly, it prevents flames from escaping from underneath which can ignite flammable materials, including people’s clothing.
As an added level of security, surround your fire pit with sand, gravel, or crushed stone. If you’re building your own fire pit, try to keep it under 14” so people around the fire can see each other easily. Don’t use river stones as they absorb water and can explode when heated.
Many municipalities and county authorities require you observe a specific legal distance to comply with regulations. Never set up a fire pit near your home, surrounding plants, fences, and trees. Do not operate it underneath a building overhang or in a partially or totally enclosed space.
Start Fire Safely
If you own a wood burning fire pit, do not use gasoline or lighter fluid to ignite the wood. Use dry kindling, paraffin squares filled with woodchips, and a barbeque lighter or fireplace matches. Don’t start a fire on windy days as sparks can easily leap very long distances.
Burn seasoned hardwood and avoid softwoods such as birch and pine as they tend to spark. Ensure logs are less than three-quarters the diameter of the fire pit. Do not leave your fire unattended.
Use a Screen
Even if your fire pit did not come with a screen, you should consider buying one. Local law may require it because it adds an additional layer of safety, but it also restricts air movement so you burn far less wood.
Make Emergency Preparations
Keep a hose, a fire blanket, or extinguisher, and fire gloves nearby in case you need to put out the fire in a hurry. Fire blankets will also smother the flames should a person clothes start burning.
If you have a gas fire pit, turn off the feed before you try to snuff out the fire. Ensure your fire extinguisher is dry-chemical, rated Class B, C, or multipurpose. If your fire does get out of hand, call 9-1-1 if you cannot put it out quickly.
Ensure Guest Safety
Guests eager to enjoy the warmth of the fire may draw their chairs in too closely. Monitor the distance, or provide built-in seating. Watch children closely as they can stumble and land on hot surfaces.
Extinguish The Fire
Check the manufacturer’s instructions so you understand how to extinguish the fire properly. Water may not be the chosen method for metal or ceramic fire pits.
If you’ve built your own, extinguish the fire with ample water and gently stir the ashes. When they’re cool to touch, you’re safe to leave the area.
A fire pit may increase your property value and increase your fire risk. Discuss your plans with your local independent insurance agent. You may need to increase your coverage limit and liability insurance so you can enjoy worry-free outdoor time huddled around the fire.