The Inspector

By NPI, Inc.



Bonfire vs. Pit: What to Know for Your Next Summer Party

 May 24, 2021 |  Holiday, Safety |  summer, entertaining, lawn care, home exterior

In summer, (and especially on summer holidays) burn injuries increase exponentially due to out-of-control flames, unsupervised grills, and other mishaps. If you plan on gathering around a campfire this summer, here’s how you can keep safe.

Bonfires are great for larger groups since they’re generally bigger than a small fire pit. They give off intense heat that’ll definitely keep you warm should the night get chilly, plus a bonfire provides adequate lighting to let the party continue into the night. Yet with all of the benefits, there are some points to consider before you start. First, the larger size of bonfires can make them harder to control if it’s windy out. They also need a fair amount of clear space to burn safely. Lastly, unlike a fire pit, bonfires don’t usually have a protective barrier around the base to keep people from getting too close.

Fire Pits
Although bonfires are nice if you’re going to have a lot of guests, fire pits include some of the safety measures bonfires might not. Portable or stationary pits tend to be smaller and don’t need as much clear land when they’re burning. Having the fire in a bowl or surrounded by a metal rim helps contain the embers, reducing the risk of anything nearby catching a stray spark. If you go with a movable fire pit, you’ll also avoid wearing down the grass in one spot of your yard, and you’ll have the flexibility of finding the perfect spot for your celebration.

Propane Pits
In addition to traditional wood-burning pits, a popular choice among homeowners is gas- or propane-fueled fire pits. This style of fire is nice because you don’t need to constantly put wood on it to keep it going. Plus, the intensity is easier to control since all you have to do is adjust the valve. Propane fire pits come in a wide variety of designs, letting you find the perfect match for your yard. You also won’t have to deal with the smoke and smell of a normal fire when using a propane one.

Always Protect Yourself
No matter what you end up going with, there are certain steps you should take to keep everyone out of harm’s way.

  1. Keep at least 10 feet. A good rule of thumb to ensure a safe distance between your fire and a nearby structure is at least 10 feet of space. 
  2. Don’t crowd. As the night goes on and your fire dies down, you might find yourself inching closer. This can put you at risk of injury should the fire flare back up. Always stay back no matter the size, and maintain a clear path around the fire for people to move freely, especially if you have pets or small children. 
  3. Properly “feed” your fire. You should only use dry, seasoned wood for your fire’s fuel. Trash like paper can burn off and get caught by the wind, potentially starting a fire nearby. 
  4. Pay attention to local guidelines. As we move into the drier part of the year, your local fire department may put out burn notices. Check any announcements for recommendations or regulations about the day you plan to have your fire--if it’s not safe, don’t risk it. Your community council or neighborhood board might also have restrictions on what you can have for a pit or if you can have one. Always make sure you’re following the rules to avoid a hefty fine. 
  5. When the party’s over… After everyone has left and the festivities are done, properly extinguish your fire. Embers can stay warm for hours after the flames die out, and under the right circumstances can start again. Pour water over the embers continuously until you hear the “hiss” stop. Everything should be cool to the touch when you’re done.

Even if you plan on just using your grill, it’s important that you brush up on your BBQ safety. The last thing you want on your fun-filled holiday is a trip to the hospital. Use these tips to have a safe, healthy summer!

National Property Inspections, Inc. can assist you with your inspection needs. Contact your local inspector and schedule an appointment today!

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