There are few pleasures in life that can compare to sitting on your cedar deck – Vancouver or other city lights in the background – watching the flames dance in your outdoor fire pit. To create an enchanting atmosphere for their cedar decking, Washington homeowners often choose to install fire pits. With happy campfire memories trotting through many of our brains, fire pits tend to help guests and residents unwind. However, they can be hazardous if the people using them are careless. Here are a few tips Washington homeowners should follow when installing and using outdoor fire pits.
Location, Location, Location
Choosing a safe place for your fire pit will help protect your loved ones as well as your cedar decking.
- Washington is well known for its huge trees. Don’t put your fire pit under trees, since the branches could easily catch on fire.
- Find a flat location where you can set up your chimenea, fire bowl or fire pit – these enclosed fire containers are a much safer choice than simply building a fire on the ground. (However, you do need to empty them of ashes regularly.)
- The fire pit should be at least 10 feet away from any combustible surface or structure. If you must have your chimenea or fire pit on your cedar decking, purchase a protective mat for it.
Accessorize for Safety
Have the following items on hand to provide safety barriers between the fire pit and your home or cedar deck.
- Vancouver can be a windy place. It makes sense to avoid using your fire pit altogether on windy days. However, to prevent random gusts from sending sparks flying, you should have a spark screen in place. Spark screens are a must-have for those with children and pets.
- Considering how flammable your home and cedar decking can be, it’s smart to have fire extinguishing agents on hand before you start a fire. Keep a pitcher of water nearby as you enjoy your fire pit, and make sure you have a hose and/or fire extinguisher in close proximity as backup measures.
- Have a poker or another fire-proof tool close by to help you move around logs in the fire pit. Never move a fire treatment until you’re sure it’s dead cold.
- DON’T start a fire with gasoline or lighter fluid. These liquids are unpredictable, and fires started with them can easily get out of hand.
- DON’T burn pressure-treated wood or any kind of waste in your fire pit, as these items can release noxious fumes.
- DON’T leave a fire unattended, even for a moment.
- DO wait at least 24 hours before scraping ashes into bags for disposal. (This ensures that the fire is completely out and that the embers won’t smolder into flames again once they’re in the trash can.)
- DO burn seasoned wood and charcoal.
- DO spread ashes out over a large surface area and douse them with water to put the fire out. Monitor the ashes to be sure they are completely out before you walk away.
- DO keep fires small; fires are harder to control as they grow in size.
- DO clear a 10- to 20-foot radius around your fire pit. Remove any debris, dead leaves or anything else that could catch on fire.
Dos and Don’ts for Safety
By following these safety tips, you can feel comfortable about the safety of your family and your cedar decking. Washington is a beautiful place to enjoy a crackling fire pit and warm friends.
[ photo by: joebeone ]