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Fire Pit Safety: What You Need to Know

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With the cooler weather coming, you might have visions of spending brisk evenings gathered around the fire pit with your family in the backyard. A fire pit is a great way to turn your yard into a second living room, allowing you to enjoy it year-round.

However, you still want to keep some home fire safety tips in mind to make the most of your fire pit. Following these will help keep your family and visitors safe and warm while they're enjoying their s'mores around the fire.

Here's what you need to know about fire pit safety.

What to consider when choosing a fire pit

If you're looking for a permanent option, hire a professional or build your own fire pit using non-combustible materials such as brick and stone.

For some, a portable fire pit is becoming a popular option. These have heavy-duty steel or cast iron bases and often come with a mesh top. Once fully cool, you can store your portable fire pit in your garage or shed.

For fuel, fire pits use wood, natural gas or propane. With wood fire pits, the fuel options are simple; you want hard, dry wood. For natural gas-powered fire pits, you'll need a gas line running to the fire pit. Propane-run fire pits often have a propane tank attached.

Pick the best option for your enjoyment and safety. Check with your local regulations and homeowners associations, too. They might have specific requirements on the types of fire pits you're allowed to use in your area.

Where to put your fire pit

One of the biggest risks you have to worry about with a fire pit is an uncontrolled fire. It doesn't take much for a fire to spread. An ember or sudden gust of wind could end up catching dry grass, fencing or overhead tree branches on fire and potentially risk your home.

Place or build your fire pit at least 10 feet from your home and your neighbor's property in a flat and brush-free area. The more space you can add to your buffer zone, the better.

If you have a portable fire pit, make sure it's on a flat non-flammable surface such as dry paving stones, brick, or crushed rocks. Never set your fire pit on a deck or other wooden surfaces.

Don't just look on the ground; look up too. You don't want to start a fire near any overhanging tree branches, buildings or sheds. Give yourself about 20 feet of overhead clearance to stay on the safe side.

How to use your fire pit safely

Now that you have the perfect spot for your fire pit, it's time to put it to good use. Keeping these fire pit safety tips in mind will help ensure your friends and family can enjoy your fire pit for years to come.

  • Watch the weather: Avoid using your fire pit on windy days where sparks could fly. On mildly windy days, check the wind direction and position your visitors away from flowing smoke.
  • Keep a safe distance: You might feel the temptation to get up close and personal with the fire pit but keep a safe distance, at least three feet away. Loose clothes, shoelaces and even hair can easily catch on fire if you're too close. Be aware of tripping hazards as well to prevent falls near or into the fire.
  • Have an extinguisher ready: Keep a bucket of water or hose and shovel at hand whenever you use your wood-burning fire pit. If you have a propane or gas-powered pit and need to quickly put out the fire, use a dry-chemical fire extinguisher.
  • Properly put out the fire: Never leave a fire unattended and never go back inside while it's smoldering. Put the ashes in a metal bucket and pour water over them. For gas-powered fire pits, turn off the gas and check that the area around the pit is completely cool before putting any cover on.
Keeping an eye on your fire pit and being aware of basic home fire safety tips means you can enjoy your fire pit, and plenty of s'mores, year-round.

Have questions about fire pits and your homeowner's coverage? We're here to help. Connect with a Westfield agent and we'll ensure you have the right policy for your needs.