Fire pits provide a cozy place for friends and family to gather and stay warm outdoors. Before lighting a fire, learn the fundamentals of fire pit safety.
Location is Important for Safety Around Your Fire Pit
Choosing an appropriate site for the fire pit is the first step in fire pit safety. The fire pit should be located on level ground and at least 10 feet from the house, trees, patio furniture, and other structures.
A fire pit should never be used in an enclosed space or beneath an awning. Trim tree branches that hang over the area to reduce the possibility of sparks flying up and igniting a branch. Non-combustible materials such as gravel, sand, or bricks should be placed on the ground around the fire pit to improve safety.
Check Wind Conditions
Always take a second to check the local weather forecast before starting a fire. Don’t use the fire pit on days with strong winds. Any time you are building a fire, note the direction of the breeze and pay attention in case the wind picks up. Be ready to extinguish the flames if conditions are dangerous.
Fueling the Fire
The best firewood to burn is a hardwood species that has been seasoned for six months or more. Don’t use wood that has been treated with chemicals and resins, as it will release toxic fumes when burning. These include materials such as plywood, pressure-treated posts, or chemically-treated wood pallets.
Never burn trash, including paper and cardboard, in your fire pit. These materials are lightweight and may ignite and drift away, starting a fire elsewhere.
Drinking and Fire Pit Safety
Alcohol impairs judgment, coordination, and reflexes. This could result in injuries to those gathered around a fire. Drink in moderation if there will be alcohol around the fire. Assign a sober adult to keep an eye on children and pets and to make sure the fire doesn’t get out of control. Keep seating several feet away from the edges of the fire pit.
Any time you are enjoying a fire, keep the garden hose and a bucket of sand within reach. Setting the garden hose to the “spray” function puts out flare-ups quicker. A stream of water can cause sparks to spread. Knowing how to use a fire extinguisher will also come in handy if the fire gets out of control. If you’re using a propane-fueled fire pit, turn the gas off before attempting to put out the fire.
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