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Entertaining Outdoors Safely

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Safety with Outdoor Entertaining

As we move out of summer into the more comfortable fall, outdoor entertaining starts to look a whole lot more appealing. The appeal is that much greater if you have an outdoor fireplace, stove or fire pit to crowd around, cook on and enjoy.

There is nothing quite like gathering around a fire under the stars. Just make sure you are observing some basic fire safety rules and get out the s'mores.

There is nothing quite like gathering around a fire under the stars. Just make sure you are observing some basic fire safety rules and get out the s’mores.

At Magic Sweep, we love getting to see our customers enjoy outdoor heating appliances that we’ve installed. But more than anything, we want our customers to enjoy their (indoor and outdoor) fires safely. So here are a few tips that’ll help keep you safe while you’re entertaining outdoors:

Safely Using Your Outdoor Fireplace, Fire Pit Or Stove

Yes to seasoned cordwood; no to chemically treated wood

Never burn pressure-treated or painted wood in your outdoor appliance. Those types of wood can contain toxic chemicals that you’re putting into the air and potentially breathing in. The same goes for plastic and other trash — tossing it in a fire might seem like an easy way to get rid of it, but that pollutes the air, and endangers the people around your fire. Seasoned cordwood is safe, and produces low levels of smoke.

A big no to flammable liquids

Starter fluid can help you get a charcoal grill going, but that’s the only flammable liquid you should have around for outdoor fires. Never use other flammable liquids — like gasoline — to get a fire going in any of your heating appliances. It’s extremely dangerous — you could very quickly have a flare-up you can’t control.

Smaller fires are safer fires

We know it might be tempting to get a roaring bonfire going, but a small fire is easier to control and produces plenty of heat.

Clear the area

Keep the area around your fire clear and free of flammable materials, like leaves, brush and twigs. Burning embers can bound out of your fireplace or fire pit, and if there’s fuel to feed a fire nearby, it can spread.

Don’t leave your fire alone

This goes without saying, but it’s worth a reminder: Don’t walk away from a fire. If a spark catches nearby materials, someone needs to be there to react. And embers can burn for a long while, even when you think they’re at a low enough smolder not to be dangerous.

Always completely extinguish your fire

Whether it’s in your grill, fireplace or fire pit, before you leave or go in for the night, make sure your fire is completely extinguished. A garden hose with a spray nozzle works well — it’s good to have that on hand whenever you’re having a fire, along with a container full of dry sand that can smother a fire if need be. It also never hurts to have a portable fire extinguisher at the ready.

Fire screens are useful

A screen likely came with your fireplace (most fire pits include one too), and those are definitely worth using — they help keep embers and debris from flying out to burn people or ignite nearby materials. Once your (safe and small) fire is lit and steady, remember to put the screen in place.

Remember to turn off the gas

If your heating appliance burns gas, don’t forget to turn the fuel off when you’re done entertaining.

Considering Adding An Outdoor Fireplace Or Firepit?

A professional technician can help guide you toward a safe and functional new outdoor fireplace, but a few things to think about:

Location, location, location

You should never place a fireplace or fire pit on a wooden deck, or within 10 feet of any other wooden or otherwise combustible structure. The heat produced, not to mention flying embers, could cause the wood to catch. It’s also unsafe to have an outdoor appliance under any covered structure — beyond the possibility of fire, you’re also dealing with the probability of toxic gases like carbon monoxide building up, and getting breathed in.

Choosing between fuels

Gas and wood can be enjoyed safely and efficiently with an outdoor appliance that’s built and installed correctly, and used properly. But there are some different safety considerations depending on fuel. With gas, proper and safe installation is a key concern, so it’s not recommended to take on adding one of those units yourself — a professional technician will make sure your appliance is placed safely, and that the gas installation is tight and leak-free.

Here’s to happy and safe outdoor entertaining this fall, and the rest of the year!