A fire pit is a great outdoor feature, one that allows you to enjoy cooler nights in the garden year round, alone or with friends. It’s a gathering place and the center of a party. There are also safety issues though, especially with more people, pets, teens, and children around.
Keeping fire pits safe is essential for enjoying them. A few easy precautions and rules will ensure everyone is safe and has a good time.
Are Backyard Fire Pits Safe?
It certainly can be safe, but safety and risk depend on how you construct, install, and use a fire pit. Knowing how to make a safe fire pit is the first step. Here are some important considerations before and during construction or installation:
- If in doubt, go with a professional. You can make your own fire pit, but if you are unaware of the safety issues or are inexperienced, you risk putting in something that will pose a danger.
- Know how far it should be from the house. Check your local ordinances to find out the required distance from any structure. Avoid putting in a fire pit under a patio roof, house overhang, or low tree branches.
- Make sure a portable safety pit is placed on stable ground to prevent it tipping. Do not put a fire pit on a wooden surface. Choose appropriate materials for building a permanent fire pit, like stone. They should not crack or break with the heat of the fire and should contain the fire completely.
Fire Pit Safety Tips
Fire pit backyard safety is also important once the feature has been installed. How you use it will determine how risky or dangerous it is.
- Position seating at a reasonable distance from the fire, and always keep children and pets at least 3 feet (1 m.) away.
- Keep fire blankets and extinguishers within easy reach when using the fire pit.
- Before lighting a fire, check wind direction and any flammable materials nearby.
- Do not use lighter fluid to start a fire. Use kindling or a starter log.
- Never leave a fire unattended.
- Do not throw garbage in the fire or use soft, fresh wood like pine. All of these can pop and throw sparks.
- Fully extinguish fires when you are ready to leave the area. Use water or follow the fire pit instructions. Dispose properly of ashes, using a dedicated metal container. Avoid fires during times of heightened wildfire risk.
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Mary Ellen Ellis has been gardening for over 20 years. With degrees in Chemistry and Biology, Mary Ellen's specialties are flowers, native plants, and herbs.