Fireplace season is officially here, and so are our tips for enjoying it more safely. It is our responsibility to protect our loved ones, property and larger surroundings when flames are involved. So, before you break out the s’mores and gather around the fire, brush up on our seven fire pit safety tips.
- Check the regulations in your area. Did you know? Open burns are often prohibited. Check with your local fire department, municipality or homeowners association to see if fireplaces are allowed in your area.
- Create a safe place. Place your fire pit at least 10 feet from your home, storage shed, yard, garage, fence or playset. And don̵7;t just look around, look up too. Make sure there are no overhead branches or power lines within a 10-foot radius of your fire pit. If there are, flying sparks can trap them and lead to dangerous situations. In addition, choose a flat surface that is made of a fire-resistant material such as concrete, stone, gravel, brick, slate or a fire-resistant composite. Then add more protection by surrounding it with crushed stone, brick or sand (any non-combustible material).
- Be careful what you wear. Fire pit clothing should include closed-toe shoes that protect you from stepping on sparks; clothes that are tighter to your body so they don’t flow or blow into the flames; and fabrics such as 100% polyester, wool, nylon and silk which are more difficult to catch fire and are easier to put out on your own.
- Do not add danger to the fire. Gasoline, lighter fluid and kerosene can quickly cause flames to get out of control. Similarly, it is never a good idea to throw garbage or flammable objects into the fire. Instead, start and light the fire with seasoned hardwoods such as oak, hickory and maple that burn warm and slow. Avoid conifers because they have a higher creosote content and burn faster.
- Never leave a fireplace unattended. No matter how small or contained a fire is, it should always be monitored. Keep an eye on your children, pets and guests. Always make sure they are at least three feet from the flames.
- Be careful with the weather. When it comes to fire pits, windy and dry conditions exponentially increase your risk. Check your local guidelines to see if it is safe to burn. Then watch the forecast and pay attention to changing conditions. If the wind picks up when you are around the fire pit, extinguish your flames immediately.
- Extinguish flames completely with water. Never go to bed or enter before the flames are sufficiently extinguished. When you’re done with the fire, drench it and stir it with a shovel. It is also a good idea to have a hose, bucket of water or fire extinguisher nearby. Be prepared to follow the PASS procedure with the fire extinguisher in an emergency: Pull the pin, Aim at the base of the fire, Pull the trigger, Sweep the nozzle from side to side.
These seven fireplace safety tips can help protect your family and those around you from danger. For even more protection, talk to a local, independent agent about comprehensive home insurance.
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