Summer is finally here – and by golly, it’s shaping up to be a hot one. As of the writing of this article, we’ve had several days of +30 weather here in Winnipeg – and it’s only early June! And there’s nothing that tops off a hot day better than a warm night around the fire pit with friends and family.

There’s bound to be a lot of celebrating this summer – but with how dry it’s been, you’ll want to be extra careful when you light a fire. To help, here are some backyard fire tips to keep you and your family safe – even when you’re celebrating late into the night.

 

Keep flammable and explosive materials far away

When you think of flammable and explosive materials, you might envision propane and aerosol cans. These are definitely fire hazards, and you should keep them at least 10 feet/3 metres away from your fire pit.

Your home is also flammable, and should be 10 feet/3 metres away. So should any tree branches, fencing, electrical wire, or anything else that might catch fire. In other words, be attentive of the things surrounding your fire pit – and keep it at least 10 feet/3 metres away from anything it could ignite. 

 

Only burn dry, seasoned wood

Wet wood can create a lot more smoke than dry wood. Seasoned wood, which has often been dried for a minimum of 6 months, produces a lot less smoke. 

The biggest hazard when it comes to wet wood is the smoke, but another hazard is the temptation to add fuel to the fire. When wood isn’t burning properly, some homeowners are tempted to use gas, kerosene, or other flammables. This is extremely dangerous. That’s why you should only use wood and kindling in your fire pit. 

You should also make sure there isn’t wood jutting too far out of the pit – that’s a fire hazard.

 

Make sure your fire is completely extinguished before you leave

You can put out your fire using water from your garden hose. Once the fire is completely extinguished, stir the ashes around and allow them to cool. You shouldn’t leave the area until the ashes are cool to the touch.

As an extra precaution, you should have a source of water near your fire pit at all times. When possible, you should also have a fire extinguisher nearby. This will allow you to respond quickly if the fire flares up.

Finally, you should have a cell phone on you at all times – not a problem in this day and age. That way, if the fire escapes and gets out of control, you can evacuate everyone and call 911 right away. 

 

Your Winnipeg home insurance policy should have some level of fire protection. It’s impossible to guarantee coverage without seeing your policy, but insurance policies almost universally cover house fires. If you’ve built a new fire pit, it may be considered a detached structure (depending on how elaborate it is). That means you should call your insurance broker and let them know you’ve built a new fire pit.

That’s all for today’s fire safety tips – we hope that you enjoy your time outdoors this summer. Stay safe!