Want to deck out your patio? These days, the most popular piece of furniture is a fire pit. Of course, a bonfire in a traditional fire pit gives family and friends an opportunity to enjoy a night in nature. But, if no safety precautions are taken, it’s also an opportunity for danger.
At your next bonfire, here’s how to make sure you have a ball (and not a ball of fire):
- Check the rules and regulations. Believe it or not, open burns are often banned. Check with your local fire department, municipality or homeowner’s association to see if fire pits are allowed in your area.
- Find a level surface in an open area. Your fire pit should be at least 10 feet from your home, your fence, your landscaping, etc. Avoid anything that could ignite (especially overhanging branches), because just one flying spark could give you a bigger fire than you bargained for.
- Put your fire pit on a natural surface. Whether it’s portable or permanent, you’ll want to put your fire pit on either concrete, stone, gravel, brick, slate or a fire-resistant composite. Then, if it’s possible, surround it with crushed stone, brick or sand (all non-combustible materials).
- Don’t add fuel to the fire. Gasoline and kerosene can send a fire spiraling out of control, and construction materials can release toxic fumes. So, what’s the best thing to burn? Stock up on seasoned hard woods, like oak and hickory.
- Never leave a fire pit unattended. You’ve heard the expression. If you play with fire, you’re bound to get burned. That’s why it’s so important to keep a close eye on children and pets, as well as any guests. Always make sure they’re at a danger-free distance.
- Be wary of the weather. When it comes to fire pits, a windy day is a risky day. Wind can cause the fire to spread unexpectedly, so make sure you remove anything downwind of the pit.
- Extinguish with water. When you’re finished with your fire, drown it, then stir it with a shovel. However, you’ll also want to keep a fire extinguisher close by. Just in case, be prepared to follow the PASS procedure:
- Pull the pin
- Aim at the base of the fire
- Squeeze the trigger
- Sweep the nozzle from side to side