An outdoor fire pit would be a great addition to your back yard, patio or even for a campsite. They can be used to keep you warm on cool evenings, or for grilling, but you should always keep in mind that fire pits are fundamentally open fires. They may therefore be subject to regulation and also present a fire hazard.
Before even installing any form of open fire device, make sure you check the local regulations. Some areas, and even entire cities, prohibit their use and resultant fines can be large. Do not purchase a fire pit until you are sure you can use it because you might otherwise be wasting your money.
Having established that there are no legal barriers, here are some tips on using an outdoor fire pit safely, and getting the best use from it.
1. Read the Manual
Make sure you read the manual from cover to cover. Follow the instructions provided exactly, and if there is anything you are unsure about contact the manufacturer. There is usually a customer service number or email address in the manual. This is of particular importance if this is your first fire pit.
2. Locate the Fire Pit Safely
Locate the fire pit away from flammable objects – for example, well away from trees and shrubbery. It would be handy to have a source of water close by in case of emergency, such as a tap or even a fire bucket. A fire extinguisher would also be sensible. It should also be located on a level surface – you don’t want any children tripping and falling into the flame.
The prevailing wind direction might also be relevant, because you don’t want the smoke and sparks blowing into your house or even on you or your visitors. Sometimes it can’t be avoided, although you could construct a windbreak. Also avoid enclosed areas where smoke inhalation and other fumes might be a problem.
3. Fuel Source
Some people prefer gas outdoor fire pits, although many opt for the ‘outdoor experience’ of solid fuel. A common fuel is seasoned hardwood. Green wood tends to spark a lot and create smoke, and soft woods such as conifers burn well, but can also generate excessive sparks. Store your wood well away from the flame.
As with barbecues, be very careful when using gasoline or any other accelerant to start the fire – in fact it is highly recommended that you don’t use them at all. Firelighters are better and some even use paper and kindling to get it going although these can generate smoke.
4. Operating Safety Tips
Start off with a fairly small fire, and gradually build it up. Never begin too large or the fire could get out of control. Do not pour accelerants directly onto a burning fire because the resultant flare-up could cause burns.
Always keep an eye on the weather because sudden gusts of high winds can cause a fire to get out of control very quickly. Never light an open fire in very windy conditions, even if you think it is protected in a bowl. Also, be aware that, during prolonged periods of dry weather, surrounding woodland and foliage can become very dry and ignite with even a small spark. Make sure you dampen any foliage around your fire pit before lighting it and keep a good supply of water close by just in case.
5. Extinguishing an Outdoor Fire Properly
Make sure that your fire is completely extinguished when you have finished. Do not leave it to die out by itself, but check the manufacturer’s recommendations. If necessary use a fire extinguisher or water, making sure the wood or coals have been soaked and are no longer smoking. Some form of lid should be used to make sure that the fire can’t relight itself and get out of control. Store the used wood or coals in an ash bucket rather than adding to your woodpile or coal-house.
There are many different types of outdoor fire pit available, and also some beautiful outdoors furniture designed specifically for fire pits. Some firms even offer gas or wood burning fire pits along with a furniture set to set around them. Some sets of patio furniture include a table, coming with the tabletop pit, the tables and a set of four beautifully upholstered chairs. The tables and pits are durable and weather-proof, and the seats are fire-resistant as you would expect.
Outdoor fire pits can be a lot of fun and people love sitting around them talking and drinking. However, try not to drink too much when your fire is lit because alcohol is one of the major causes of outdoor fire pit accidents. You don’t have to abstain completely, but somebody should be in control to make sure there is no fooling around close to the fire pit by those that do over-imbibe.