Gather ‘round the fire pit and keep it safe

Some wood burns, smells better than others

Before you fire up the pit, it’s important to keep safety in mind.
Before you fire up the pit, it’s important to keep safety in mind.

SAN ANTONIO – As evenings begin to cool off a bit, it’s prime time for gathering around the backyard fire pit to relax and toast marshmallows.

It’s a great way to keep socializing distanced and outdoors. As families look to spend more time at home, online searches for fire pits are twice what they’ve been in recent years.

Every year, however, more than 5,000 people end up in emergency rooms due to fire pit or outdoor heater injuries.

Before you fire up the pit, it’s important to keep safety in mind.

“Ideally, you want to place fire pits or chimineas away from any structures, your house or sheds, anything that could possibly burn,” said Tobie Stanger, of Consumer Reports. “Go at least 10 feet away and, preferably, up to 25 feet.”

Raising the fire pit off the ground is ideal. However, users should follow manufacturer instructions about height and surfaces.

Obviously you want to keep fire away from trees or brush. Keep in mind, you don’t need a spark to start a fire. If the brush is dry and brittle enough, the heat alone can ignite it.

Different types of wood create different types of fires. CR suggests avoiding softer woods like pine or cedar because they tend to smoke and spark. Woods that burn longer, such as hickory, oak or ash are preferable.

“The best thing about hickory is that it has that wonderful campfire smell,” Stanger said.

Once the fire is crackling, it’s best to place a spark screen on top of the pit and keep a garden hose nearby just in case.

When it’s time to call it a night, spread the logs and ash into a thin layer and saturate the area with a hose sprayer until the embers die.

About the Author:

As a consumer reporter, Marilyn is all about helping people stay safe and save a buck. Since coming to KSAT in 1985, she’s covered everything from crime to politics, winning awards for her coverage of the Mexican Mafia, Oklahoma tornadoes, children’s transplants, an investigation into voting irregularities and even a hit-and-run Santa Claus.