‘Tis the season to hang out with friends and family around a blazing fire. While a fire pit can be a wonderful addition to your home, all fires are potentially dangerous. According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission, at least 5,300 injuries related to fire pits or outdoor heaters were treated at emergency rooms in the U.S. in 2017. That’s nearly triple the 1,900 injuries reported in 2008. A quarter of the victims are under the age of 5 and many are burned the next day, when abandoned coals are still hot.
So before you sit down with some marshmallows to roast, we gathered up some tips to help you keep that fire in the pit (and away from everything else).
Are you legal?
- Before building or buying a fire pit, check the regulations if your area to learn about restrictions. Rules can change on a seasonal basis, as dry or windy conditions can affect safety.
- Your fire pit may be legal, but a fire might not always be. Monitor and follow community burn bans.
- Be respectful. Nothing can extinguish the good vibes of a nice fire more quickly than police complaints from smoked-out neighbors.
What kind of fire pit is best?
- You can buy a fire pit or build one. If you choose the later, there are plenty of resources online to help you design it. Don’t dig a hole just anywhere and throw some rocks down.
- If you want convenience, a propane model might be good for you. They produce less smoke and have an adjustable flame.
Ready to build a fire?
- First, ensure the area under and around the fire pit is clear of flammable materials. Keep the pit itself at least 10 feet from any structures.
- Before you start the fire, have a fire extinguisher or garden hose handy.
- Choose hard, seasoned woods. Sparks from softer woods like cedar can increase the danger of igniting something nearby.
- Don’t use liquid fuels, even lighter fluid, to get your fire going. And don’t burn paper, cardboard, leaves, garbage, etc.
- If you have a metal fire pit, don’t overload it and always use the included safety screen.
Is the fire out?
- When you’re done, spread out the ashes and let them cool off for a bit. Then, gently pour water or sand over them. Stick around for a little to watch for any flare-ups.
Here’s to making (safe) memories around the fire!