Backyard fire pits have long been associated with the joys of summer, but homeowners and their friends are now using them as a year-round gathering space. Even those with little or no backyards are adding a small fire pit to enjoy the relaxation that comes from the warmth of an open fire.
If you are considering adding an outside fire pit to your backyard, there are a few things you should consider, including where to place it, what type of fuel to choose, and, of course, fire pit safety.
Here is what you need to know to get the most from your backyard fire pit and to do it safely:
Where should you place an outside fire pit?
The first thing to decide is whether your fire pit will be portable or permanent. Placement is especially crucial for a built-in fire pit since you will likely need to do some preparation or renovation before you install it.
The fire pit should have a minimum clearance of ten feet from your house or your neighbor’s property. It should be placed where there are no overhanging branches and away from fences and structures that can catch fire. Make sure you situate the firepit on level ground.
You will also need to determine the best surface on which to place the pit. Acceptable bases include gravel, stone, brick, or concrete. Do not place your fire pit on the grass, and never set it on a wood deck as this would constitute a dangerous fire hazard.
What type of fuel will you use?
The choices for fuel typically come down to wood or gas. Wood gives that authentic ambiance complete with smoke and crackling sounds, but requires more care and supply of seasoned wood. Gas is considered more convenient since it starts and stops with the flip of a switch.
If you decide on a wood-burning fire pit, make sure the firewood has been aged for at least six months. Avoid construction materials, such as plywood, MDF, pressure-treated boards and posts, and chemically treated wood pallets, since they might release toxic fumes when you burn them. Softwoods like pine and birch produce more potentially dangerous sparks than seasoned hardwoods. Remember to never use lighter fluid or gasoline to start a fire in your backyard fire pit.
Fire Pit Safety
Fire pits can be lots of fun for bringing together family and friends, as long as everyone pays attention to safety. Do not light the fire pit on unusually windy days. Even if winds are light, check the direction before lighting so that it will not blow sparks toward nearby structures, brush, leaves, or other debris. Everyone should avoid wearing loose-fitting clothing near the fire, especially if it is made of flammable material such as nylon.
Here are some other tips on how to use a fire pit safely:
- If you have an enclosed fire pit, use the screen whenever you’re burning.
- Keep a garden hose or bucket of sand nearby in case the fire gets out of hand.
- Use thick gloves to handle hot parts of the fire pit safely.
- Position the chairs far enough away from the pit so people can get up and move without stumbling into the fire.
- Do not allow children to get too close to the fire pit.
- Keep a fully-charged, dry-chemical fire extinguisher close by, and be sure everyone knows how to use it.
- Make sure your sleeves are rolled up, and hair is tied back when you are roasting hotdogs or toasting marshmallows over the open flame.
- Be very cautious using alcohol around the fire pit. Not only is it flammable, but consuming too much of it can impair coordination and judgment. If you or your guests are going to drink by the open fire, do so in moderation and keep everyone safe!
- Do not leave your fire unattended. Even when the fire has died down, assign a responsible person to watch it if you have to walk away . When you are finished for the night, pour water over any remaining embers, and turn the logs over to make sure all sides of the wood have stopped burning.
- Store your firewood at a safe distance from the fire pit. You do not want a wayward spark to ignite it before you are ready to use it.
Check-in with one of our insurance experts before you use your fire pit
Before using your fire pit, you should talk to a White Cloud Insurance professional and get some expert advice. Disclosure of your fire pit might be a requirement of your policy. Fill out our contact form, call us at 305-556-1488, or send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org