What better way to enjoy the outdoors than around a cozy outdoor fire pit?
But fire safety is key when it comes to protecting your property, said Tim Bemis, insurance services manager at Dupaco Insurance Services.
Fire pit safety 101
Follow these hot tips to keep your next recreational fire both fun and safe:
Let the weather forecast be your guide. If it’s windy, a fire can spread quickly and uncontrollably, warned West Bend, an insurance company carried by Dupaco Insurance Services. “If it’s windy out, don’t start a fire,” Bemis said.
Remember: Location, location, location. Fires must be at least 15 feet away from any structure and may not exceed five feet in height, according to the Dubuque Fire Department. All vegetation and combustibles should be removed from the area ahead of time.
Use the right equipment. The city of Dubuque requires recreational fires to be in an approved container or fire pit no larger than 36 inches in diameter. Burn only charcoal products or natural wood. And avoid burning processed woods, building materials, paper and yard waste, the fire department said.
Keep tabs on children and pets. “When people use wood that’s not quite dry, it pops and sends embers outside the fire pit area, so always keep an eye on kids and animals,” Bemis said.
Be prepared. Keep a portable fire extinguisher, garden hose or sand and a shovel on hand for immediate use. Just in case.
Don’t move a fire pit or ashes too soon. Portable fire pits stay warm long after the embers burn out, which could lead to an unexpected fire. Bemis knows from personal experience. He recently emptied ashes from his fire pit into a bucket before disposing of them. The fire pit hadn’t been used in a week. Even so, the bucket quickly melted. “Had I put them into a garbage bag and into the can alongside the house, this could have been a different story. Who would have thought this would happen after a full week?” he said.