Backyard Recreational Fires – Safety & Info
Fire pits are a popular outdoor feature for entertaining family and friends in the backyard. As the number of homeowners enjoying backyard recreational fires is growing, so too the number of accidents. In 2017, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recorded more than 5,300 injuries due to fire pits and outdoor heaters, a 300 percent increase since 2008. Whether you are building an outdoor recreational fire or buying a fire pit from a retailer, it’s essential to be alert and keep the same fireplace safety guidelines you’ve always had in mind.
Fire Pit Clearance
Finding the right location for your backyard fire is essential for safety. Your fire pit should be at least 15 to 20 feet away from surrounding structures like your home, fences, and trees. Make sure it is on level ground, clear of any brush, branches, and underground roots from nearby trees. Also, avoid installing a fire pit on combustible surfaces such as a wooden deck, grass, or enclosed patio.
Check the Wind Condition
Windy weather and backyard fires don’t mix, so check the wind conditions before lighting your outdoor fire. Typically, if the wind speed is 5mph or more, it is unsafe to light the fire. Strong winds can cause the fire to jump onto grass or brush, quickly spreading to nearby structures.
Fire Pit Fuel
If you have a wood-burning fire pit, use hardwoods like ash, birch, cherry, or oak that have been seasoned or dried for at least six months. It will burn cleaner, more efficiently, and last longer than fresh or “green” wood. Softwoods like cedar and pine are not recommended because they can cause sparks and excessive smoke. Also, never burn chemically treated wood, paper, and other materials with paint, finishes, or other coatings in any backyard fire or fireplace. The chemical additives can produce toxic fumes. It can even cause an explosion.
Keep Children and Pets Away from the Fire
Keep children and pets at least three feet or more from a recreational fire or fire pit to avoid getting burned or catching fire from flying sparks or embers. Also, don’t leave children or pets unattended.
Be Prepared Just In Case of Emergency
Since backyard fires can be unpredictable, you need to be prepared just in case of an accident or emergency. Your emergency kit should include a first aid kit, fire blanket, shovel, and a garden hose or water bucket. If someone gets too close and their clothes accidentally catch fire, tell them to “stop, drop, and roll” to extinguish the fire. You can also use a shovel and garden hose to apply dirt and water to douse the flames quickly.
Completely Extinguish Flames Before Leaving the Fire Pit
Make sure to extinguish the flames safely and entirely before leaving your backyard recreational fire for the evening, just as you would before leaving an indoor wood-burning fireplace. The best way to put out the fire is to use a shovel to spread the ashes, coals, and any unburnt wood pieces in a thin, even layer. Then, use a garden hose or water buckets to douse the fire. Ensure to thoroughly saturate the pit so that it is completely cool and no longer smoldering so that it doesn’t re-ignite.