Summer vacation is getting started around the country and that means cookouts and s’mores and plenty of time outside with family and friends. Before you head outside, though, it’s critical that you ensure your family’s safety. Whether you’ve got a grill, a fire pit, or a traditional campfire, these 5 tips will make sure everyone has fun.
Make Sure There’s Space
When building a fire pit, experts recommend that it’s at least 10 feet away from any structure, with 25 feet being preferable, but don’t just look around – you need to look up, too. Low-hanging tree branches and porches also present a fire hazard if embers lift up into the trees. And don’t skimp on clearing any surrounding brush; you need at least five feet of vegetation-free ground around a fire pit to keep it from accidentally spreading.
Pick An Appropriate Surface
While it’s fine to place your fire pit or grill right on dirt, the best option is to place it on bricks or patio stones. And did you build your dream deck when you designed your backyard? Go ahead and place a traditional gas grill on that, but if you have an open hibachi-style grill, take it off the deck. You want to keep fully open flames as far away from any type of wood as possible.
Steady The Wood Stacks
Typically you would only use a fireplace grate in, as the name would suggest, a fireplace, but consider using one in your fire pit as well. Why? Because fireplace grates help control the flow of oxygen to the fire, which makes for a more consistent flame. They also hold any logs in place so that they don’t fall off the stack and send sparks flying. This makes your fire just a little bit safer, especially if you have children nearby.
Prepare To Extinguish
Any time that you start a fire, you want to be prepared to put it out. Make sure you have ready access to water, plenty of dirt and ashes to smother the fire, and a shovel to pile that dirt on top. Even if you expect to stay with the fire until it burns out, you never know what might require you to step away, even for a moment. You should never leave a fire unattended, so be sure you can put it out if you need to do so.
Prep The Kids
Children are fascinated by fires and it’s great to foster cautious curiosity, but make sure that they know what to do near the flames first. Teach children the basics, such as never to touch the fire and not to run near it. Most importantly, review how to put out a clothing fire using “Stop, Drop, And Roll,” and how to smother a clothing fire on someone else. Also be sure that children wear closed-toe shoes near fires and that their hair and sleeves are pulled back if they are toasting marshmallows or otherwise close to the flames.
Generations upon generations have made fond memories around backyard fires, at summer camp, or by the beach, but fires have also led to countless catastrophic injuries and accidents. This summer, commit to practicing proper fire safety, and spread the knowledge around. If everyone knows what to do in the event of an emergency, you’ll be able to relax and enjoy the glow of the flames.