Sitting around a warm fire on a fall evening is an experience everyone should be able to enjoy. While an outdoor fire can be a beautiful thing, it can also go very badly if you don’t prepare and handle it properly. Below are six tips to help you set up your first fire pit with confidence.
Location Location Location
The most important part of this process is choosing the location for your fire pit. You can’t overthink this – imagine the consequences of setting your neighbor’s house on fire, or your own. It takes only 30 seconds for a house fire to get out of control and only about 5 minutes for the entire house to fill with flames.
Choose a level spot 10-20 feet from anything that could catch on fire, such as houses, sheds, trees, and playground equipment. Do this even in the snow!
Make sure to look overhead, as well; low-hanging tree branches can also be a safety hazard. Being overly cautious about where you put your fire pit now will save you a lot of anxiety in the long run.
Burn Clean Fuels
Fire seems like the perfect form of waste disposal. Throw anything into it, and you don’t have to take out the trash anymore. It can be fun to see the way different objects react when thrown into the fire. If only it were that simple!
What we see when we look at fire is a chemical reaction between oxygen and fuel. Once heat ignites this chemical reaction, these elements combine to create gases that dissipate into the air, leaving ash behind.
The kind of fuel you use determines what kind of gases the fire creates, and some of these gases can be very bad for your health. Do your research and burn only safe and clean fuels.
Form a Backup Plan
What will you do if, despite all your caution, your fire still gets out of control? If your answer is “I don’t know,” it’s time to think again. You may be very comfortable using fire, but accidents can happen even to the most experienced of people.
To ensure your own peace of mind, develop a backup plan in case of unforeseen circumstances. Start by keeping a fire extinguisher near your fire pit, and learn how to check its tag so you know what kind of fires it puts out and that it’s in good working order.
Also, consider putting your fire pit within reach of an outdoor hose. As a last resort, this can help keep a fire under control until help arrives.
Start Your Fire With Care
The possibilities for types of fire pits are endless. Options range from building your own with flagstones, large rocks, and bricks to installing iron fire pits in various shapes and sizes. Have fun with it and choose the style that suits you best.
Regardless of what you choose, make sure you set it on level ground so nothing will roll out while it’s being used. Use fire-starting tools such as lighter fluid wisely, and always read instructions. Inform your guests if part of your fire pit heats up when in use, and never leave shoes with rubber soles too close to the heat.
Be especially careful when using a fire pit around children. One-quarter of individuals treated for outdoor fire injuries in America in 2017 were under 5.
Put It Out Completely
One of the joys of using a fire pit is staying up late to watch the stars with friends and family. But no matter how late you stay up, it’s your responsibility to put out the fire completely before you go to bed.
Smoldering coals don’t always go out on their own. They can heat back up and spread or burn someone in the morning. Model safety for your family and friends by dousing your fire with water until all live coals have gone black.
This is another reason it’s handy to be near your hose! Use a stick or iron poker to stir through the ashes until you’re satisfied all the flames are out and it’s safe to go inside.
Check Community Codes
Many cities have community guidelines and regulations governing fire pit use. These regulations can be frustrating, but they were created to ensure the safety of the community and only restrict outdoor fires within city limits.
Toronto locals who want to enjoy a fire pit inside the city should check these regulations on open-air burning before starting any outdoor fires to ensure they’re following city guidelines.
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