Family and friends gathered around a toasty fire pit roasting marshmallows and making s’mores seems like an idyllic summer evening, but such a scene can take a turn for the worse if backyard fire pit safety isn’t top of mind.
Injuries related to outdoor patio hearths and fire pits have spiked in recent years, according to the National Fire Protection Association, with children under 5 and pets being the most vulnerable. In fact, many injuries are incurred the next day when the embers are still hot from the night before.
Like grills, fire pits can also spark fires to nearby structures; the NFPA reports that backyard barbecues cause over 10 thousand home fires each year.
For the many nights ahead of hanging out beside the flames underneath the stars, keep these fire pit safety tips from the NFPA, U.S. Fire Administration and Federal Emergency Management Agency in mind.
- Use a metal screen over wood-burning fires to keep sparks from floating out.
- Always keep children and pets at least 3 to 10 feet away from the flames and supervise. Make sure to alert children of the fire every time that it’s lit, instruct them to stay back and remind them of the safety rules.
- Turn off or put out fires before you leave the backyard. Check manufacturer guidelines for properly extinguishing the fire and be sure to have all necessary tools.
- Fire pits can remain extremely hot into the next day. Make kids aware of this and supervise until all embers are burned and the temperature returns to normal.
- If someone suffers a moderate burn, use cool, not cold, water on the burn for 3-5 minutes, then cover with a clean dry cloth. For serious burns, go to the hospital right away.
Are Fire Pits Covered by Homeowners Insurance?
Most homeowners policies will typically cover accidents related to outdoor fire pits. However, you should ask your insurance agent if your policy has adequate liability and medical payments coverage. These parts of the homeowners policy could protect you if fire pits cause injury to a guest or damages someone’s property.
Of course, there are steps you can take to make a fire pit accident less likely. Here are a few more things AAA Insurance recommends.
- Build fires 10 to 20 feet away from any tree or structure like a home or shed.
- Stash a fire extinguisher, hose and fire blanket nearby in case of an emergency.
- Don’t light fires on windy days. Strong winds can send embers flying across your yard or onto a neighbor’s property.
- Never use gasoline or other flammable liquids to start a fire.
Before installing a fire pit, chiminea or outdoor fireplace on your property, check with your local fire department about rules and regulations. Some communities, such as New York City, do not allow open fires. Communities with homeowners associations also tend to have their own rules about fires, so it’s a good idea to ask before you burn.
From fire pits to grills to fireworks, a lot of summer fun involves flames. Whenever you are around fire, be responsible and keep safety top of mind.
Do you have a backyard fire pit? Tell us in the comments.
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