What custom backyard is complete without a fire pit? An open flame adds an exotic feel to your backyard parties and chases away mosquitoes with a light cloud of smoke. However, it’s always important to remember that at the end of the day, an open flame is still an open flame and must be handled with care. As you design your backyard features, keep fire pit safety at the forefront of your mind.
As cool as a fire pit is, if not handled correctly, it has the potential to be a dangerous addition to your backyard. Make sure that you and anyone else who will be using the firepit knows how to safely light, manage, and extinguish a fire. Use this guide to keep yourself and your partygoers safe while the fire pit is in use.
Remove Flammable Materials
Before lighting your fire pit, take a look at the area surrounding it. Is there anything that could potentially catch fire if sparks blew in that direction? Sweep twigs or other flammable debris out of the way to prevent the fire from spreading. A five-foot radius is a good rule of thumb. Additionally, double-check what you and others near the fire pit are wearing. Don’t wear clothing with long, loose parts (such as ties or scarves) that can hang into the fire pit if you lean too close.
Pro Tip: Many homeowners enjoy having furniture around the firepit to facilitate conversation. Make sure all the furniture you use for this is either flame-retardant or made of entirely fireproof materials.
Pay Attention to What’s Fueling the Fire
In general, there are a few flammable items that you should never use as fuel for your fire pit:
- Gasoline or other flammable liquids: These can splash out of the fire pit and present a serious hazard.
- Paper or trash: Burning paper has a tendency to pop and throw sparks out of the fire pit.
- Soft woods (cedar, pine, etc.): Like paper, these woods can pop and spark in a fire.
Extinguish the Fire Carefully
When you’re ready to put out the fire, douse the fire pit in water and stir the ashes with a shovel to make sure every coal is extinguished. As you clean the ashes out, be mindful of their temperature and how to properly dispose of them. Ashes can still retain enough heat to start a fire if exposed to flammable materials even after a couple of days. When you dispose of the ashes, avoid packing them in a cardboard box or paper bag to prevent spontaneous combustion.
Handling an Open Flame Safely
Fire pits are constructed with basic safety precautions in mind, so the chances of something going drastically wrong are low. However, managing the fire safely also depends on you to exercise caution and keep everything under control. With a little care and regards for fire pit safety, your fire feature is a perfectly safe and enjoyable addition to your backyard.
Join the conversation to learn more about safely handling fire features in your backyard.