Family Guide to Fire Pit Fire Safety | Concepts & Tools

by | May 25, 2024

Fire pits are fun ways to spend time with family and friends in the outdoors, but without proper fire safety techniques, you are at risk of harming property or even yourself or others. Additionally, if you have kids around the fire pit, this can add additional risk, however it also presents an opportunity to teach kids good fire safety principles

Common Fire Pit Hazards

Even though fire pits create a cozy atmosphere for backyard gatherings or for camping, it’s important to remember that fire is, well, fire! Common hazards include stray embers igniting nearby dry leaves or flammable objects, flames getting too high and reaching close branches, or even someone accidentally tripping and falling into the fire.

For children specifically, common fire pit hazards are things like getting too close to the flames and suffering burns, inhaling smoke, which can irritate young lungs and eyes even more than it does adults, or even tripping and falling. Especially when roasting marshmallows for s’mores, the excitement can get the best of them. It’s never too early to teach fire safety, but remember, these lessons can be fun too.

Fire Pit Fire Safety Concepts

Before you start your fire pit, you need to think about some concepts, like where your fire pit should be and how it should be built. Also, teaching kids about boundaries with fire and being clear about what their job is and isn’t is important.

Related Article: The Difference in Curious and Troubled Fire Setters

Placement of Fire Pit

Keep it at least 10 feet away from anything flammable like your house, fence, or trees. Think of it as a 10-foot safety zone for maximum peace of mind. Look up too, avoid placing it under low-hanging branches where sparks might land and cause trouble. A flat, stable surface is key to prevent tipping, so uneven ground is a no-go!

When camping and building a temporary campfire, you should be even farther away from things like tents. Ideally at least 25 feet away from tents and anything else that can burn. 

Building A Safe Fire Pit in Your Backyard

When building the fire pit, you can either do a temporary option, like a solo stove that you can put away when not in use or build one out of stone. Both options can be very safe but the key part is making sure it is secure. For this reason, permanent stone fire pits can be even better, but solo stoves help keep the smoke out of your and your kids’ eyes and lungs.

You can also get smokeless inserts to place in your stone fire pit as well to get the best of both worlds. There are also DIY plans across YouTube for you to try. 

Building a safe fire pit really comes down to stability and location. The rest is up to you. Additionally, it is best to have stone laid around your firepit so any rogue embers don’t catch the grass or bushes on fire. 

Building a fire pit can even be a great family project to do all together.

Building a Safe Fire

Sticking to small wood based fires is the best way to keep it safe. Use only seasoned firewood ideally, as it burns cleaner and hotter with fewer sparks. Start small! Build a compact pyramid or log cabin with kindling in the center, followed by progressively larger pieces of firewood. Leave air gaps for good airflow and never add accelerants like lighter fluid—it can cause flare-ups. Remember, a small, manageable fire is always the safest option for your fire pit fun.

I like to set up fires by placing a few twigs across the bottom to have a nice foundation, then place fire starter cubes on top of those. After that, I create a small teepee or pyramid with a larger log cabin around that with larger sticks. That way, it will be able to get started and grow more easily and safely. If you have trouble getting the teepee to stand up, sticking the sticks into the dirt can help.

Giving Kids a Job for Fire Safety

Giving kids a job works much better than telling them not to do things. For example, telling them “if you find matches or a lighter, give them to a trusted adult” is going to work much better than telling them to not play with matches and a lighter. 

Around the fire pit, you could task them with helping people with s’mores or instruct them to keep an eye out for any rogue marshmallows or embers that might escape the fire pit. They can use a safe tool (like a long stick) to nudge them back in safely or to let an adult know if they are younger. Get creative and start with smaller tasks and build up over time to help them learn to be a safe adult around the fire like you one day. 

Fire Pit Fire Safety Tools

Having the right tools helps you manage the fire and put the fire out if it starts to get out of control. You should have something to help you move sticks and logs around safely and a fire extinguisher or water ready to put the fire out if needed. 

Fire Pit Tools

Fire pit tools can be as basic as a good sturdy stick, but if you have a lot of fires in your fire pit, it makes sense to have some more official and safe tools. For example, here is a really cool set of fire pit tools with Fire Tong and Fire Poker to help you manage your fire pit with ease.

Additionally, having s’more sticks is essential for kids. Of course they can use normal sticks but for younger kids you really want them to have something more safe.

Tools for Extinguishing a Fire

Having a bucket of water, fire extinguisher, and/or a hose ready to go is key in case the fire gets out of control. I once made the mistake of not having my hose pulled out before starting the fire and when the fire started to get too big, I went to grab the hose only to find that it wasn’t long enough to help me put the fire out. Thankfully, the fire settled down on its own but it could have been much worse.

For fire extinguishers you can get big expensive ones, but we recommend residential fire extinguishers for home use that are easier to use and cheaper. Here is one from First Alert that we like. It is small but still lasts just as long as a big extinguisher.

Related Article: Home Fire Safety Equipment You Should Have

Next Steps for Fire Pit Fire Safety

Talk about family fire pit fire safety with your whole family and especially your kids. The best form of prevention is education, so having a plan and discussing it before the fire is even started is important. If you are in Georgia or South Carolina taking one of our online or in person Fire Safety classes is another way to be more prepared by gaining an overall understanding of Fire Safety. 

About First Response

First Response provides CPR, First Aid, and Fire Safety training to clients across Georgia and South Carolina for over 23 years. We believe training should be relevant, informative, and fun! Feedback from our clients consistently shows that they not only enjoy our classes, they learn something new–even for folks that have taken the class many times before.

Contact us to book a class for your facility, or sign up for a class here.

About the Author

<a href="" target="_self">Matt Enser</a>

Matt Enser

CPR, First Aid, and Fire Safety Instructor

Matt has taught CPR, First Aid, and Fire Safety courses for First Response since December 2018. He also coordinates much of the digital marketing and creative tasks. Outside of First Response, he can be found getting up in the mountains as well as serving in the local church.

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