Fire Pit Safety
by John Dean on February 13, 2017

Building a fire pit is not something that is done and forgotten. Having a fire pit, taking care of a fire pit and monitoring its use are responsibilities to be taken very seriously and the whole family should be involved.

While planning the fire pit, the family should gather at the site and discuss whether there are any fire hazards or other risks that could cause problems or injury. With the family involved in every aspect of the planning and building of the fire pit, there will be a greater feeling  of ownership and responsibility. Discussing safety throughout the building process with the family will create a more safety minded attitude toward the fire pit and its use. A piece of paper and pen should be placed in an accessible place so safety ideas can be written down when someone thinks of them. Perhaps a small prize for the one that suggests the most appropriate ones.

Once the fire pit is built, the family should gather around the pit with one having a pad and pen. This is the time when the family will brainstorm all of the rules and guidelines that should be in place before each time the fire pit is to be used. If a list had been created earlier, use it now. This final list should be posted by the door leading to the fire pit area. A person should always be designated to be the safety person for that night.

Be sure the fire pit is well away (at least 20 feet) from any combustible materials such as overhanging branches, bushes or fences. In addition, make sure the wood for the fire pit is not stored near the location of the pit.

It is not a good idea to place crumpled  paper and kindling in the fire pit in advance of the lighting of the fire and it is not a good idea to start the fire early and go off attending to other chores. Never leave the fire unattended; not even for a moment.

Always have a fire extinguisher, hose with a spray nozzle and a bucket of sand by the fire. Heavy duty gloves are good to have especially if you have to handle a hot log that has rolled off the fire.

Never leave the fire to “burn itself out”. Make sure the coals and embers are completely out before leaving the fire pit for the night. Use water to douse the flames.

A fire pit is not a bon fire. Never build it too high. The wood pile should not exceed 2 feet in height.

Always consider the strength and direction of the wind when considering whether to have a pit fire.

Make use of a rugged screen or spark arrestor to prevent embers from flying through the air and possibly starting a fire elsewhere.

Use a long metal rod as a poker or fireplace tongs to move the wood around or when placing wood on the fire.

Wear shoes around the burning fire as sparks and embers may settle around the fire pit.

Do not use accelerants such as gasoline to start the fire. This is dangerous and will also damage the bricks and firebrick.

Gas fire pits are manufactured with safety in mind but it is very important not to become complacent with these. Always check the connections of the gas hose. To do this, place some dishwashing detergent in a glass and mix it with water so it becomes a soapy mixture. Turn the gas on at the tank. Use a brush to cover the connection(s) with the soapy mixture. There should not be any bubbles coming from the connection. If you see bubbles, immediately turn the gas off at the source and check if the connections are tight. Repeat the test and if there are still bubbles forming contact a gas professional.

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