Not everyone wants to hunker down and hibernate the entire winter away. In fact, backyard fire pit usage has been growing in popularity. More and more people are appreciating chilly winter evenings outdoors, in the comfort of their own backyards.
Alongside this trend is the need to increase awareness of residential fire safety basics, and common sense steps taken when having a fire during wintertime. Let’s take a few moments to go over fire pit safety during the winter.
As with any outdoor fire, whether in your backyard, at a campground, or anywhere else, pay careful attention to the foliage in the area. During fall, plant material and dried leaves can gather near the fire pit. If a stray ember lands upon the pile, it will ignite and burn quickly. Clearing any dead vegetation from around the fire pit to at least 10 feet is the best way to be safe. That way, if you burn soft woods to create that fantastic crackle we all adore, the popping embers won’t have any fuel to land on.
Most firepits and tables are constructed using weather resistant, low maintenance material, so you can leave it outside when the temperature drops without needing to worry about causing damage. It’s still a good idea to use a custom vinyl cover to protect your fire pit when you’re not using it. It will keep your investment protected from rain, snow, and falling leaves, which will mean less cleaning and make it easier to use – just remove the cover and dump the snow off several feet away.
Paying attention to the weather is also important, aside from the fact that it’s cold outside and you want to speedily make a fire to warm up your hands. It may seem obvious, but even just a subtle wind can flare up a wood burning fire very rapidly. Hot embers will fly and there isn’t much you can do when this happens. If the wind picks up, extinguish the fire as soon as possible with water (having sand or a fire extinguisher on hand are also good ideas). Although some don’t follow preventive measures, it really is crucial to own a spark guard cover to keep the embers inside if you are burning wood. Most models are accompanied by one when you buy them.
If you own a gas-powered fire pit, there are some maintenance related matters you should be aware of before starting your first fire of the winter season:
1. Examine the gas feed hose leading from the propane tank to the gas valve and ensure there are no cracks, and that the hose connections are secure. If there is ANY sign of cracking at all, replace the hose immediately, BEFORE you turn it on or use it.
2. Turn on the propane gas valve at the tank and listen for any hissing noise. Just because you don’t hear a leak, doesn’t mean there isn’t one. Propane has a distinctive rotten egg scent, so if you smell anything similar, turn the valve off immediately and call a qualified repairman to inspect your fire pit before you use it. Why risk your life?
3. If no smells or leaks are present, start the fire normally and look at the flame. If it is burning unevenly or is very yellow in color, the burner is probably clogged up. Turn off the gas and examine the burner for debris which might be plugging the burner holes. Clean and repeat this step.
By following just a few fire pit maintenance and safety tips, and general residential fire safety guidelines, it’s easier to have fun knowing you’re being safe. You can enjoy a delightful fire outdoors with family and friends.
Why stay inside during the winter when your warm fire pit awaits you?
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Dobbelare Distributing Hardwood Firewood is aged for a minimum of one year to ensure proper burning and minimize excess smoke. Our typical mix includes Oak, Cherry, and Hickory. Wood is available in select single specimens upon request.