September 2020 - Fire Pit Safety Tips
Many of us canceled vacation plans this year due to virus-related travel restrictions and, instead, turned our backyards into our own private resorts. If your idea of a vacation resort includes a fire pit, take the necessary precautions to ensure a safe experience for yourself, your family, and your friends.
The first step – check with your municipality regarding the local regulations on fire pits and open burning. Also, heed all “no-burn” alerts issued by your local authorities. These alerts usually are necessitated by weather conditions that increase fire risk.
A general rule for placement of your fire pit is to keep it at least 10 to 20 feet away from existing structures, fences, plants, and your neighbors’ properties. Be mindful of overhanging trees and never place a fire pit in a partially enclosed space, including under building overhangs. Sit portable fire pits (a.k.a. chimineas) on pavement, brick, metal or other level, fire-resistance surface and surround permanent fire pits with non-combustible materials (crushed stone, sand). Flying embers can ignite wood and grass surfaces.
A few other safety precautions:
- Check wind direction before lighting; sit downwind away from smoke
- Never use flammable liquids to start your fire
- Use only well-seasoned wood, preferably hardwoods like hickory or oak; softwoods (birch, pine) will crackle and spark more, increasing the risk of flying embers and construction wood (i.e., composite wood or plywood) can emit toxic fumes
- Keep logs smaller than three-quarters of the diameter of your fire pit
- Use just enough fuel for gently burning fire – store extra firewood a safe distance from the fire pit
- Avoid burning paper, which can spark and throw embers
- Arrange seating to allow free movement around the fire without risk of falling; built-in or heavy seats are harder to move
- Use a fire screen
- Keep a water- or sand-filled bucket, hose, or fire extinguisher close by
- Extinguish your fire according to the fire pit manufacturer’s directions
- Have a phone handy for emergencies
Taking a little extra care to prevent injuries and property damage can result in fun experiences and lasting memories. Stay safe!