Thursday, 20 August 2009

Safety First - Playing it Safe With Outdoor Fire Pits, Fire Bowls and Patio Heaters This Winter

With old man winter in full effect people have started to more fully utilize their outdoor patio heaters, fire pits and fire places. Nights are crisp and cold. Everyone is turning up the heat or adding a few extra logs to their outdoor fire bowl. While any outdoor heating device adds both comfort and charm to any patio or garden it is always important to keep safety in mind. Here are a few suggestions from an outdoor retailer for keeping your patio and garden area safe this winter.

  • Number one on the list... Any heating device that uses fuel, including wood in the fireplace, is a potential source of carbon monoxide. This is a colorless, odorless, poisonous gas. Make sure there is adequate ventilation and realize even if you are outdoors CO2 gasses rise and can stay trapped in confined areas. You may consider having a outdoor ceiling fan on low to move the heat (and gas buildup) around.

  • If children are present make sure that any heating device be out of the way of any foot traffic. Children at play have a high potential for knocking over free standing patio heaters or falling into or onto a fire bowl or fire pit. If your kids are going to be playing outside while you enjoy the heat explain to them before hand the potential for harm.

  • If using a patio heater check the hoses that lead from your fuel source (often a propane tank) to the heaters itself.

  • Also if using a patio heater check the heating area for any blockage. Make sure all screens are kept free of debris. You never know if a wasp decided to nest over the summer and anything blocking full flow could create issues.

  • If using a chimnea, outdoor fireplace, fire bowl or fire pit don't overload it. These were not meant to provide excessive amounts of heat. Keep it filled to the manufacturer's recommended fuel source levels. These were not meant to be outdoor bonfire containers!

  • When using heating devices outside you still must be mindful of anything combustible within a three foot clearance. If the heating element comes in contact with paper or clothing, it will easily ignite them.

  • Do not ever discard ash or embers in trash cans. The heat created will ignite anything that it come into contact with. The best way to take care of this problem is to use a metal bucket for ashes and leave the bucket on the lawn for the night. Discard the next day.

  • Never leave a heater on when you go inside. (much less to bed) When the night is done make sure your fire is out and your patio heater is off. Turn the propane off at the canister as well as shutting it off at the thermostat. If you have been using an outdoor fireplace you can throw a little dirt on the embers to assist in smothering what is left of your fire. Be especially considerate if this device is used on a deck or porch.

  • While it's fun to sit around the heat outside in the backyard on a cold night and swap stories, you should keep in mind that it can be dangerous if not done carefully. These tips can keep your outdoor area cozy, comfortable and safe for the entire family.