We Didn’t Start the Fire: Backyard Fire Safety

by | Aug 19, 2011 | Farrell Backlund, Homeowners Insurance

Weekend barbecues and backyard fire pits are a summer staple. Although a lot of fun, these activities can be very dangerous if proper precautions aren’t taken to ensure the fire stays within the confines of the grill or your fire pit. Below are some tips in order to enjoy your fire pits and grills safely.


According to the U.S. Fire Safety Administration website, approximately 5,700 grill fires occur each year, 57% of which occur between the months of May and August. To avoid becoming part of this statistic, follow the USFA’s guidelines below.

• Propane and charcoal BBQ grills must only be used outdoors. If used indoors, or in any enclosed spaces such as tents, they pose both a fire hazard and the risk of exposing occupants to toxic gases and potential asphyxiation.

• Position the grill well away from siding, deck railing, and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.

• Place the grill a safe distance from lawn games, play areas, and foot traffic.

• Keep children and pets from the grill area: declare a three-foot “safe zone” around the grill.

• Put out several long-handled grilling tools to give the chef plenty of clearance from heat and flames when cooking.

• Periodically remove grease or fat buildup in trays below the grill so it cannot be ignited by a hot grill.


The U.S. Fire Safety Administration website states that fire pits are an increasing concern for fire departments across the country. Although no statistics are provided for fire losses cause by fire pits, the USFSA advises you follow the guidelines below to help ensure your backyard fire pit doesn’t get out of control.

• Keep away from flammable material and fluids such as gasoline, diesel fuel, kerosene, and charcoal lighter fluid or vehicles while in use.

• Do not use flammable fluids such as gasoline, alcohol, diesel fuel, kerosene, and charcoal lighter fluid to light or relight fires.

• Exercise the same precautions you would with an open fire.

• Do not allow children to use the fire pit. Keep children and pets away.

• Do not wear flammable or loose fitting clothing such as nylon.

• Do not burn trash, leaves, paper, cardboard, or plywood. Avoid using soft wood such as pine or cedar that likely pop and throw sparks. Use of seasoned hardwood is suggested.

• Before starting the fire, make sure that the lid will still close to extinguish the fire in case of emergency. Do not overload. • Before you light the fire, check the wind direction.

• Keep a fire extinguisher or garden hose nearby.

Following the safety tips above will help decrease the likelihood of property damage and injuries as a result of a fire. Always use common sense when dealing with fire and be certain there is a water source nearby that is easily accessible should a controlled fire start to get out of hand. For more information on fire safety please visit www.usfa.dhs.gov.


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