A backyard fire pit makes for a fun, relaxing evening with the family at home. You can roast marshmallows, tell stories, and enjoy each other’s company. Building safe outdoor fire pits is definitely an investment when it comes to family time, but keep in mind that fire pit safety is important and will keep your family out of harm’s way. Fire can be dangerous and damaging, but with a few good practices, safe outdoor fire pits can be a reality.
You can be proactive and safeguard your family and property by simply following these 8 fire pit safety tips.
Build the Fire Pit at a Safe Distance
You don’t want your backyard fire pit to cause any damage to the main house. Protect your property by building the fire pit at least 10 feet away from your home, as well as any fences, trees, gardens, swing sets, and any other backyard structure.
Follow Residential Fire Pit Regulations
Before building your fire pit, make sure you know the local requirements and regulations for fire pits. Some cities and states have specific rules about where you can place the pit in your backyard, and some may require covers.
Light and Extinguish Fires Safely
The safest way to light your backyard fire pit is by using seasoned, dry wood. Place the wood so that it doesn’t extend beyond the edge of the fire pit before lighting it with a match or lighter. You may be tempted to use gasoline, lighter fluid, or kerosene to make the fire start faster and brighter, but always avoid these fuels: they can create big fires that quickly get out of control.
Another great option for outdoor fire pits is using propane/natural gas. They’re significantly easier to light, and you don’t have to worry about extinguishing burning wood or hot coals after you are done with your fire. It’s important to know how to safely set up propane, and how to shut it off completely so the fire glass or lava rock can cool completely.
No matter which fuel source you choose, keep buckets of water nearby and accessible while the fire burns. Extinguish the fire with water, making sure to douse all the wood and any remaining embers. Spread the ashes around so they can cool down, and don’t leave the fire pit until it is cool to the touch.
Choose a Standing or In-Ground Fire Pit
Both standing and in-ground fire pits have their safety advantages. A standing fire pit, such as those at RST Brands, can prevent the kids from wandering too close to the fire. However, in-ground pits keep the flames closer to the ground and away from overhanging branches. Choose the type of pit that best meets your needs.
Build a Tall Fire Pit
To keep the fire contained and safe from the littlest members of the family, an above ground fire pit should be 12 to 14 inches tall. This will still allow your family to see and enjoy the fire from chairs without containing all the warmth.
Use Appropriate Materials
Make sure to place non-flammable materials underneath the fire pit, including stone, gravel, brick, or concrete. You might consider using fire pit glass in place of wood, as it does not produce harmful smoke or fumes while burning, making it safer for your lungs and the environment.
Supervise the Fire at All Times
While the fire pit is burning, it should be monitored by a responsible member of the family. Don’t leave the fire pit alone until it is cool to the touch. Definitely don’t let the fire burn overnight unless the family is gathered around it.
Set Rules for Guests
Set some safety guidelines that your family and any guests must follow. Draw a chalk circle around the pit and ask the kids to stay outside that circle—or make a rule that kids need to be on the lap of an adult. Use a screen to protect guests from flying embers. Train your pet to stay away. Encourage your guests to leave their pets at home or inside the house when they’re enjoying the fire pit.
By following these guidelines for fire pit safety, your family can enjoy the magic of a crackling outdoor fire pit in safety.