Who doesn’t love a good fire pit? Winter temps are in full swing, but an unseasonably mild day might tempt you to gather ’round the pit with family and friends to sip hot chocolate, roast s’mores, tell ghost stories, reminisce about good times, and generally catch-up on life. But while you’re letting the good times roll, keep these four fire pit safety tips in mind.


Safety Tip #1: Keep the Fire Pit at a Safe Distance


Always keep your fire pit at least 10 feet away from your home, and anything that’s flammable. Be especially careful not to situate the pit directly beneath tree branches, since rising embers and heat could cause them to ignite. Also, avoid placing your fire pit atop grass or a wood deck, or inside of an enclosed porch.


Safety Tip #2: Use the Right Fuel


If you’ve got a traditional wood-burning fire pit be sure to burn wood that is seasoned, which means it’s been dried out to eliminate moisture—as much moisture as is possible. You should stick to using wood that contains a maximum of 20 percent moisture, and was chopped a minimum of six months prior. Wood that’s been freshly cut is considered to still be “green,” and may have as much as 50 percent moisture.


To help keep sparks to a minimum, keep the size of your logs within three-quarters of the diameter of the pit. Don’t put too many logs in at once—you may risk logs falling out.


For gas pits, strictly use fuel that your pit is made to handle, and verify that all vents are unobstructed.


Safety Tip #3: Properly Light and Extinguish the Flames


Never ever use lighter fluid or kerosene to light a flame.


To extinguish your fire with water you can use a garden hose, but be sure to set the nozzle to spray mode—a concentrated bead of water may disperse embers. You may also put out the flames using a bucket of sand.


For gas and propane pits, make sure you turn off the fuel supply before extinguishing the flames.


(For extinguishing flames, check the manufacturer’s instructions for directions that are specific to your fire pit).


Always keep a fire extinguisher on hand in case your fire gets out of control. Yours should be a dry-chemical extinguisher that has a Class B and C or multi-purpose rating. When using it follow the PASS technique:


P—Pull the pin.

A—Aim at the base of the fire.

S—Squeeze the trigger (slowly).

S—Sweep the nozzle from left to right. Most portable extinguishers can reach between 6 and 10 feet, and last from 8 to 10 seconds.


Safety Tip #4: Keep Your Cell Phone Close


Keep your cell phone handy. If your fire somehow gets out of control and spreads beyond the pit, leave the area immediately and call the fire department.


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