As a homeowner who likes to host BBQs involving a backyard fire or a camper planning your next outdoor adventure, you may be curious about leaving embers burning in your fire pit. After all, the last thing anyone wants is for their house to catch fire as a result of an unattended fire pit! Let’s take a closer look at this important question, and go through the ins and outs of when it’s safe to leave embers burning in your fire pit.
How Long Can Embers Burn?
The answer depends on several different factors, such as the kind of wood used, the size of the ember bed, and the amount of oxygen available. Generally speaking, however, most embers can burn for up to 8 hours or longer. That said, experts recommend not letting them burn for more than 4-6 hours. This is because the longer they burn, the greater potential there is for them to cause a fire hazard.
Can You Leave a Fire Pit Burning Overnight?
Let’s cut to the chase- it is always safest to put out any embers completely before leaving your fire pit unattended. But if you do decide to leave hot embers smoldering overnight (or longer), make sure that you follow these crucial safety tips:
• Check local regulations regarding open outdoor fires- some areas may have restrictions on how long you can leave an open flame burning. Be sure to check with your local government before lighting any type of backyard fire using your fire pit.
• Keep an eye on wind direction- if there are strong winds blowing through the area, consider putting out the fire completely since high winds can easily spread sparks or hot ashes, and create dangerous conditions in the surrounding area.
• Keep plenty of water handy- always have access to a water bucket or other sources of water nearby in case you need to extinguish a blaze quickly.
• Maintain adequate clearance from combustible materials- ensure that there is at least 10 feet between your backyard fire pit and any combustible materials (trees, tents, etc.). In addition, it is always worth double-checking to make sure that all flammable items are cleared away from around the fire pit before starting a blaze.
• Monitor temperature levels- keep an eye on temperatures within your fire pit throughout the night and make sure they remain at safe levels (below 250°F). If temperatures start rising too quickly or too high, put out all flames immediately.
• Don’t forget about wildlife- wild animals may be attracted by food leftovers (if you are using your fire pit for cooking) or other smells, and become trapped by flames if left unchecked. Make sure that no animals or pets are stuck near backyard fire pits before leaving them unattended overnight, so that they are not harmed by smoke inhalation or burns caused by hot coals/embers.
Legal Considerations Surrounding Recreational Fire Pits
As we said earlier, the best way to determine whether a firepit is legally allowed in your backyard is to consult local government agencies in order to review their fire regulations. Almost all US residential districts have a legal requirement regarding backyard fire pits. Although the specific rules differ with regard to size and use, the long and short of it is that most jurisdictions across the United States say a recreational fire left unattended is illegal.
Risk of Property Damage
You might be liable for substantial damage if flames from an inoperable fire pit reach the house at night. On average, several hundred thousand dollars are needed to restore home sections damaged in a fire! Typically, home insurance companies do not reimburse homeowners for fire damage. Of course, this is also not counting the potential homes of neighbors that may be at risk if a fire burning overnight reaches them.
Risk of Injury/Fatalities
Besides property damage, there is also the risk of human injuries and loss of life. Strong winds may make your burning embers quickly spread hot ashes which can hurt others, or you could have occupants suffer severe burns which can be fatal.
Almost every year, American homeowners are struck with legal penalties for unsupervised fire pits. In some jurisdictions, fire pit installations may be limited during the entire year. Regulations may also prohibit the use of the pit on the dryest days of the year in the event that backyard fires may occur.
Wind Speeds and Fire Spread
A wind gust up to 10 mph is enough to quickly start a blaze from an unattended fire pit. Similarly, heat from the flame can spread rapidly by isolated spells of wind on an otherwise calm evening. Studies have shown that wood ashes contain enough heat that they can ignite adjacent hazardous materials such as leaves, trash, wooden decks, newspapers, and more. The ashes can easily fall off a fire pit, or explode into potentially dangerous material with just a small blast.
Fires Can Spread Quickly
Serious fires may start within 30 seconds and spread quickly in that short amount of time. A fire in an unattended fire pit in one’s backyard can potentially spread to surrounding homes in the neighborhood within 5 minutes, and destroy everything surrounding them. In fact, a tiny gust can help to stir up the air with hot embers, creating the perfect conditions to ignite the blaze.
Ways to put out Flames From Your Backyard Fire Pit
The best way to extinguish fires is typically to snuff them out. You can also remove the flames or embers from the firepit through dirt or pour water on them in order to make sure that they are completely extinguished.
How to put out a fire pit without water
If the flame is burning rapidly, a lot of soils or sand can be used. Covering the fire pit in this manner reduces oxygen supply and is safer in the sense that the flames that are being sprayed by a lot of water can be blown up by splashing.
Do you need a snuffer to put out a fire pit?
A snuffer is a thick metal sheet inserted directly into the fireplace where it is used to extinguish fires by blocking airflow. It’s not necessary for fire pit owners to use the snuffer, but most models are supplied as a free accessory if purchased separately.
No one wants their house or the neighborhood engulfed in flames! By following these simple safety tips, you can rest assured knowing that you are managing your backyard fire pit safely and that you are protecting your property as well as other people. Remember- it’s always best practice to make sure that all flames are fully extinguished before leaving fire pits unattended for extended periods of time. Happy BBQ season!