Ways to improve safety around your backyard fire pit

Once an item only seen on rural homesteads, fire pits have gone suburban, becoming quite the popular backyard asset. A variety of set-ups are on sale at general home improvement stores.

But how can you play with fire and not get burned?

The risks of backyard fire pits

Fire pits present the same risks as any other open flame feature. People and animals can get burned, and there’s always the potential of the fire becoming uncontrolled and spreading beyond the pit. Plus, depending on what is burned, fumes can become toxic. Some cities have gone so far as to ban fire pits completely, while some insurance policies will not cover any resultant damage.

Improving fire pit safety

If you are willing to accept the risks, here are some precautions you can take to improve the safety of your fire pit:

  • Carefully position the fire pit so that it sits at least 15 feet away from any structure, including fences, play equipment and outbuildings.
  • Ensure that nothing hangs above the fire pit—especially tree branches.
  • Do not place the fire pit directly on top of wood or grass.
  • Surround the fire pit with a buffer zone of dirt or rocks to keep people at a safe distance.
  • Clean the fire pit on a regular basis to reduce the risk of the fire becoming uncontrollable.
  • Do not use the fire pit when the wind is strong.
  • Avoid the use of liquid fire starters.
  • Stay nearby while a fire is going.
  • Purchase a cover that reduces flying embers.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher nearby.
  • Always extinguish the fire before leaving the fire pit.