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Fire Pit Safety

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The sun is setting earlier.  Soon there will be a new crispness in the evening air. All of this makes extending the day gathered around a fire pit all the more enjoyable.  But fire pits can quickly go from entertaining to extremely dangerous if safety isn’t taken into consideration in their placement and use. 

 

KNOWING YOUR TOWN OR COUNTY REGULATIONS

  • Some towns prohibit the use of fire pits completely and impose hefty fines if you don’t follow the regulations. You should call your local fire department to find out what’s allowed in your town or city. 
  • If you’re building a fire pit (rather than buying a commercially made unit) be aware that there are also some counties that require a permit before you can build a fire pit in your yard.

 

PLACING YOUR FIRE PIT

  • Station your pit on a level stone, concrete, or brick surface at least 10 – 20 feet from your house, trees, and anything flammable.  
  • If you use a commercially manufactured, mobile unit, don’t place it in an enclosed area (like a porch).  Aside from the fire danger, fumes from the pit can be harmful without proper ventilation.

 

STARTING THE FIRE

  • Always burn dry, seasoned wood cut at least six months earlier.  To keep sparks from flying, make sure logs are no longer than three-quarters of the pit’s diameter. Also, don’t pile the logs too high. 
  • Start the fire small. Start the fire safely, i.e. NEVER use lighter fluid, gas, or kerosene to light a fire. Start it with crumpled newspaper or a commercial fire-started stick.

 

USING THE FIRE PIT

  • All of the “NEVER” and “ALWAYS” advice may be obvious, but they are nonetheless critical:

-NEVER allow children near the fire pit (at the very least, maintain a three foot distance)

-NEVER leave a fire unattended

-NEVER use a fire pit when it’s very windy

-ALWAYS have the fire pit supervised by an adult

-ALWAYS drink responsibly, or not at all, when using a fire pit.  You’re literally “playing with fire” otherwise.

-ALWAYS use screens to prevent sparks from flying when there’s any wind at all.

-ALWAYS keep a bucket of sand, a fire extinguisher or a garden hose nearby, just in case things get out of hand.  And it’s probably a good idea to keep a mobile phone around too, just in case you need to call for help.

 

PUTTING THE FIRE OUT

  • Make sure you extinguish the fire completely.  If you are dousing it with water, continue to pour it on until there is no steam. 
  • If feasible, cover the fire pit with a lid after you have put the fire out.
  • NEVER store coals or wood in bags right away; use a metal ash bucket instead.  There could be hot embers left!
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