In recent years, the popularity of outdoor living has boomed. More and more people are converting unused yard space into cozy outdoor rooms. Outdoor fireplaces, space heaters and fire pits add warmth to any outdoor space, extending the outdoor season virtually year-round.
However, these appliances can create a fire hazard if not used correctly. Many people think of summer as the time for fire danger, but fire danger during the winter is a very real risk because of the large amounts of dry grasses available as fuel during this time of the year. Before you use an outdoor fire feature, take the following steps to ensure your backyard is fire safe:
- Trim back hedges and remove dead plant material that may provide fuel for a fire. Mow the lawn one final time in late fall and rake up the leaves. This practice not only reduces the risk of fire danger, but also ensures a healthy lawn in the spring. Leaves left lying on the grass promote lawn diseases.
- Water shrubs and trees occasionally during the winter, especially if you have infrequent snow fall. Watering plants reduces fire danger and also prevents dessication, or drying, which can damage or even kill the plant. Do winter watering once a month during dry weather. Choose a dry day to water when daytime temperatures are above 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Clean up any debris, such as papers, boxes, piles of grass or dry twigs, which could provide fuel for a fire. Store firewood in a dry location, such as a shed, at least 30 feet from the house.
- Store propane appliances, such as a gas grill or fire pit at least 20 feet from the house. Follow all manufacturers’ directions when using these appliances. Cover wood burning pits with a screen to contain sparks, which could start a fire.
- Keep a shovel, bucket of water and fire extinguisher nearby if you start a backyard fire. As Robert Herrick said, “A spark neglected makes a mighty fire.” Put out any backyard fire completely by dousing it with water or dirt. Stir up the embers to ensure the fire is completely out.
- Take flammable household materials, such as paint, oil or solvents to a neighborhood disposal center. Do not store these materials in the garage or shed. They are highly flammable and present s real fire risk. Store away propane tanks when not in use.
- Teach children proper fire safety rules. Keep lighters and matches out of reach and instruct children to tell you if they ever find such materials. If you light a backyard fire, teach children to walk around it, rather than run, and approach it with caution.
- Use care when operating gas-powered stringers and pruners. These power tools can emit sparks, potentially starting a fire around dry leaves and plant material.
- Develop an emergency plan for dealing with fires. Talk with your family about a fire escape route from the house and designate a meeting place if your home or yard were to catch fire. Keep emergency information near your phone.
- Always start a backyard fire on a non-flammable surface, such as a concrete patio or rocked area. Do not start a fire near dry grasses, plants or flammable backyard furniture.
Once you’ve taken the necessary precautions, fire up the backyard fire and relax. A fire pit, such as an lp gas fire pit table is a great way to add warmth and functionality to your backyard décor. Install fire pits and space heaters on a concrete patio, rather than a wood deck or use a non-flammable pad beneath them to avoid sparking a fire. Use extra precautions when operating backyard fire features because it only takes a second for an accident to occur.
By following the ten easy steps listed above, you can always enjoy outdoor fires year-round.
Author Bio: Karen Ho Fatt is an interior designer and writer. She maintains a website, familyfirepit.com which offers tips and suggestions on popular fire pit brands, such as the Strathwood fire pits line of outdoor fire furnishings. Karen lives in the country where she enjoys spending as much time outdoors as possible.