Fall is in the air, and many of us are looking forward to gathering around an outdoor fire feature with friends and family. Whether you’re roasting marshmallows or simply star gazing, outdoor fire places and fire pits spark great memories.
While enjoying these treasured moments, it’s important to keep safety a top priority. Here’s our Top Ten Fire Safety Tips to ensure you and your loved ones can enjoy quality time together safely:
- Clear the area: Fire pits should be on level ground cleared of any debris. If you’re lighting a mobile fire pit, make sure it’s at least 10 feet away from any structures or combustibles (such as a gas grill or piles of dry leaves). Don’t forget to look up – make sure your fire pit is not below low-hanging branches.
- Check the forecast: Windy days are not fire-friendly, as hot embers can be blown around unpredictably and cause harm or property damage.
- Plan a seating arrangement: Encourage a safe distance from the flames with a safe seating arrangement. Heavier chairs placed in a planned arrangement discourage people from haphazardly pulling chairs dangerously close to the fire.
- Be prepared: Before starting a fire, make sure you have a safe way to extinguish it. Keep a container of water, garden hose or a bucket of sand handy - you’ll thank yourself when it’s late and dark outside. Fire extinguishers and fire blankets are also good safety measures.
- Know your fireplace or pit: There are many different types of fireplaces and pits - from brick, stone, ceramic and metal, wood burning and gas. Be sure to read the manufacturers’ instructions for your specific type of fire feature, as the thresholds for heat, use and maintenance vary by type. The instructions may also have important information about how to extinguish the fire - for example, water may cause ceramic fire pits to crack.
- Choose the right fuel: There are many methods on how to start a fire, but if you’re using a fireplace or fire fit with a built-in ignition source, be sure to read the instructions carefully. General rules include using dry, non-treated wood and building a small base with loose kindling.
- Start small: Bigger is not always better when it comes to outdoor fires. A small fire can create great ambiance, and can be built up incrementally to the desired size. However, starting a large fire is harder to control and can quickly become unmanageable.
- Stay close: No matter what type of fire feature, never leave a fire burning unattended.
- Don’t leave or trash hot embers: Never throw away hot embers, which can set a trash bin on fire within minutes. According to the USDA Forest Service, if embers are too hot to touch, they are too hot to leave unattended or trash.
- Enjoy! Don’t let these steps discourage you from enjoying your outdoor space this Fall and Winter. Once safety becomes a habit, you’ll be able to gather next to a warm fire with peace of mind.