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  • Writer's pictureAron Pinto

Summer Home Safety Tips: Fire Pit Safety Basics

A fire pit makes a great addition to almost any home’s outdoor space. It allows you to use your backyard even on cool nights, extending the useful life of your outdoor living space.

It is a great gathering point for small family get-togethers and relaxing in front of the warm flames of a fire pit after a long hard day is one of life’s lovely little pleasures. And as a staging tool for those selling their Waterloo Region home, it’s an ambiance setter that can work wonders to increase the outdoor ‘curb appeal’ of your home.

Given that this year we are all likely to be spending far more time in our own backyards, a fire pit may be a wonderful addition to your outdoor space. But they do need to be used carefully.

Fire pits come in lots of shapes, sizes, and styles and they fit almost budget. From inexpensive portable metal pits to built-in fireplace like pits the ways in which they can be added to your landscape are really only limited by your imagination.

Whatever type of fire pit you do choose to install though you need to be aware of some basic fire pit safety rules, as well as understand what you should do if the flames should ever burn a little too bright.

Fire Pit Safety – Fire Pit Placement

A lot of homeowners want a fire pit they can add to their patio, making it more of a comfortable outdoor living room than anything else. There are a number of great fire pit choices that can help them achieve this goal (fire tables are an especially good choice if you enjoy al fresco dining)

You do have to be careful where you place them, for safety’s sake, whether you have a more traditional wood burning fire pit or a gas-fueled one.

Gas Fire Pit Safety

You should not locate your gas fire pit any closer than about two to six  meters from your home itself and you should never place it underneath overhanging branches.

If you have a gas burning fire pit it is very important that all the vents are clear at all times to avoid smoky flare-ups. Gas fire pits are safe if used properly but do not think that because you have a gas fire pit you will never experience a problem with a fire that gets out of control if you do things like turn the flame too high or allow very flammable materials to enter its flames.

Wood Burning Fire Pit Safety

Wood burning fire pits are very safe, as long as you use them responsibly. The first thing to remember is that a fire needs to be lit carefully and slowly. The wood you use should be dry and preferably well seasoned. You should never load it too full with smaller pieces of wood or kindling as that increases the risk that a lit piece of wood could fall out of the fire pit.

Most importantly of all even if you have been trying to light a fire for a while and it is taking longer than you had hoped never be tempted to use something like lighter fuel to get it going. Even using a very small amount can have disastrous consequences.

What Do in An Emergency

Whatever kind of fire pit you own it is always a good idea to keep a supply of dry sand nearby. Some fire pits cannot withstand a blast of water and a focused spray from a garden hose can easily spread burning embers. A bucket of dry sand dumped onto the flames of a small fire will usually do the trick but if yours is a gas fire pit you first move should always be to turn the gas off.

If you choose to keep a fire extinguisher on hand instead it should be a dry-chemical extinguisher with a Class B and C or multipurpose rating. If you do have to use it for safety’s sake you should follow the pass procedure – pull the pin; aim at the base of the fire; squeeze the trigger slowly; sweep the nozzle from side to side.

If the fire is larger than you can deal with do not stick around – get everyone away from the fire, away from the house and then use a cell phone to call 911.

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