Is my fire pit safe?

My buddy fell into the fire pit. Can he sue me?

Can you spell liability? Your first duty to an invited guest is to keep them safe. If you did find yourself in a lawsuit then your home/tenant insurance would consider your situation and whether or not to defend you. How safe is your fire pit set up? When you positioned the fire pit did you think about the safety factors?

When you choose your fire pit model you will be looking at how well it fits with your yard. The size of the unit should match the space you will use. It should be a solid surface. So consider slate, gravel, brick, paving stone or even firmly packed earth. If you are going with dirt then be sure that there is no debris that can catch on fire such as dried leaves, pine needles, dried grass or paper that might ignite from a spark.

If you have bought a fire pit kit then there are always instructions in the package on how to set up the fire pit. I know, it isn't rocket science, but it is a good idea to read the instructions and set up as has been recommended by the manufacturer. They are giving you these instructions because they are also concerned about getting sued. Therefore these instructions are in your best interest.

If you are building your own fire pit then do consider buying a screen. Most fire pit kits come with a screen. The screen is really helpful in keeping down the sparks that might burn someone sitting nearby or starting a fire that can quickly get out of control. Keeping a bucket of sand or water nearby is a useful precaution. Smothering or drenching are usually effective ways to put out a small fire.

Having a first aid kit with burn ointment on hand is a good idea. Also a fire extinguisher should be near by. Never place your fire pit near a building, tree or under a roof line. Even if a fire pit is portable it is not meant to be used indoors.

Consider the placement of the lawn furniture around the fire pit. Be careful about cooking over the fire pit and leaning into the pit. Use skewers and a cooking rack is a good idea. Weiners taste just a good cooked on the rack. If you want to use a skewer then remember that they get hot! Do not touch the bare metal.

If there are small children around the fire pit then be aware that you, as the property owner, have the highest duty to keeping these children safe. Even if the parents are totally ignoring the situation it is up to you to be sure that the children do not accidentally injure themselves while playing near the fire pit.

Be careful when you mix liquor and fire. The drinks need to be kept back from the fire pit as alcohol will burn. The guest who is drinking the alcohol also will burn if he falls into the fire pit so keep an eye on him/her as well. Again, even though the person is inebriated you have a duty to keep them safe. That duty also extends to the trip home so you might want to consider some of the don't drink and drive options.

If you are in the yard at night then there can be a hazard when you leave the fire pit area to return to the house. Make sure that any steps are well lit and some discreet auxiliary lighting can help prevent an accident and yet not ruin your ambiance.

Be aware of the direction of the wind. If your pit is using wood then it will smoke. Consider your neighbours and the effect of the smoke going to their yard or possibly through an open window into their home. Being considerate makes you a good neighbour. Planning ahead helps to prevent insurance claims.

Everyone knows a campfire has to be put out before you retire. The same holds true for the fire pit.

A lot of the concern with owning a fire pit is common sense. Being a responsible person and a good host go hand in hand. Follow a strict routine of policing the area before starting up the fire. Have a supply of wood on hand that will burn cleanly and do not burn garbage - the smell and the smoke are not pleasant and can cause problems. Be alert when the fire pit is being used especially for small children who do not always pay attention to their surroundings. Protect the friend who has had a bit too much to drink. Last but not least, enjoy!

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