Fire Pit Safety

Fire Pit Safety

It’s a beautiful night to sit around the fire pit. The flicker of the flames and the crackling of the fire create the perfect backdrop for relaxation and conversation. Yet the scene can quickly turn dangerous without the right precautions.

Each year, fire pits send thousands of people to the emergency room. Young children and pets are especially vulnerable. Fire pits can also pose a significant fire hazard for your property, igniting leaves and grass, wooden structures and even your home. Follow these 10 fire pit safety tips to help keep everyone and everything safe.

1. Choose the right location.

Place your fire pit at least 10 to 20 feet away from other structures. Keep it away from low hanging branches above. There should be a minimum of 12 feet between your fire pit and tree branches. Never set up below power lines or string lights, which can create immediate danger if sparks fly. Don’t put your fire pit under a building overhang or in an enclosed area. That could cause a buildup of smoke, carbon monoxide and harmful gases that can be deadly.

2. Select a safe, stable surface.

Avoid putting your fire pit directly on the grass or on a wood deck. Instead place your pit on brick, concrete pavers, gravel or sand. Alternatively, you can buy pit pads and heat shields for underneath your pit, as well as pedestals. Surround your pit with crushed stone, sand or brick for added protection.

3. Choose the right fuel.

Soft woods like pine burn less efficiently, and spark more. It’s better to buy seasoned hardwood kindling and logs. You also could use fallen branches from trees in your yard. Do not, however, use construction lumber like pressure treated wood, plywood or chemically treated pallets. These woods will emit toxic fumes when they burn. So will trash and plastic. Never start a fire with lighter fluid or gasoline; that will create a burst of flames and can even release toxic gas or cause an explosion. Don’t throw leaves into the fire. They are light and can be carried by the wind. Finally, when tending to the fire, make sure your sleeves are rolled up and your hair is tied back. Use heat-proof gloves, a metal fire poker or safe long handled tongs.

4.  Check the wind conditions.

Don’t use your fire pit on windy days. Wind can easily blow sparks around to surrounding brush. Use a screen to contain sparks and large embers. If your fire pit is portable, place it in a location with a natural windbreak before you start the fire. Always heed “no burn” alerts from your local municipality. If they say conditions are unsafe for a fire, it’s too risky to chance it.

5.  Keep chairs far enough away.

Carefully place your seats around the fire pit. If you’re too close, your hair or clothes could catch fire. Stay 3-4 feet away from wood burning fires and 2-3 feet away from gas fires. Keep children 3-10 feet away from the flames. If a light breeze is blowing, have guests sit upwind so they can keep clear of the smoke.

6.  Supervise children and pets.

Children and pets don’t understand the dangers of fires. They are naturally curious. Teach children the rules about not touching the fire or fire pit and not throwing things into it. Make sure they stay sufficiently away and remind them if they venture closer. Consider barriers or designated areas for both children and pets. Make sure there is a responsible adult who always has eyes on them.

7.  Drink responsibly.

Fire and alcohol are not a good combination. Alcohol is highly flammable, and overindulgence can affect our judgment, coordination, and reflexes. If you are going to serve alcohol around the fire pit, have a designated nondrinker overseeing the flames. Keep everyone a safe distance away. You also may consider a smokeless fire pit which could add a layer of safety.Never leave a fire unattended. Extinguish it completely when you are done.

8.  Never leave a fire unattended. Extinguish it completely when you are done.

Sparks can fly and fire emergencies can happen in an instant. If you must leave the area, designate a deputy to watch over your fire pit. Remember that fires are “live” for long after they seem to stop burning. Almost extinguished fires with hot ash and hidden embers have been known to cause plenty of damage. Make sure to put out the fire completely before leaving it. Pour water over live embers. Turn the logs to make sure all sides have stopped burning. Check the fire pit the next day just in case. Hover your hand over the ashes to make sure they are not still radiating heat. When it is safe to do so, use a metal shovel to dispose of ashes in a metal pail or trash can. Then wet the ashes by slowing pouring water over them.

9.  Be prepared to extinguish a fire in an emergency.

Always keep a shovel, dirt/sand, and water on hand in case of an emergency. You can smother the flames by piling dirt or sand on them. You can spray water from your garden hose but don’t use a focused stream which can spread embers. Also check your manual to see if your firepit is made from a material that is water safe and won’t rust or crack. You may want to invest in a fire blanket which can be used to smother a fire. A multipurpose fire extinguisher can be used as a last resort.

10.  Check your local regulations.

Some municipalities require you to get a permit for your fire pit. Due to the fire risk, some homeowners’ associations (HOAs) don’t allow fire pits. Others require an onsite inspection from a local fire official. Do your homework and find out the local rules so that you can follow them.

Finally, protect your home with the right insurance. Accidents happen despite our best precautions. Make sure you have enough coverage in the event of a fire.


This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or

Fire Safety Tips

October is National Fire Safety Month – and we wanted to share some tips for keeping your home safe from fire. Thankfully, we have a lot of Firefighters (and some other really smart people) on our Facebook page – and I asked them to share their tips with us!

Here’s what they came up with:

  • Keep debris and brush away from your home
  • Always have a water supply handy near a burn pile
  • Don’t leave burning candles unattended
  • Create home escape routes and a safe meeting place, and practice them!
  • keep dryer vents cleaned out
  • test smoke alarms regularly
  • keep fully charged ABC fire extinguishers handy
  • eliminate extension cords
  • turn ceiling vent fans off when leaving the room
  • turn off the stove 🙂
  • check for frayed/worn wiring
  • keep space heaters away from flammable items
  • don’t let candle tins burn too long
  • don’t leave flammable materials near the stove

And last, but not least – don’t play with matches!

Thanks to all our wonderful Facebook Fans for helping me out!

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