Don’t Fall Into the Fire Pit! Fire Pit Accident Prevention At Home

| July 18, 2014 | 0 Comments

The sun is just starting to set, the fire pit is blazing away merrily, and you are getting settled in for a relaxing evening. This scene is being repeated all across the country both during the daylight hours as well as at night. While this might seem to be the perfect way to spend a few relaxing hours, over the past 13 years there have been over 7,600 reported accidents, with almost half of them involving young children. Education and awareness are keys to preventing a fire pit accident. Believe it or not, just falling into a lit or unlit fire pit is one common mishap that occurs.

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Man falls into a bonfire

What Types of Fire Pit Mishaps Occur?

When most people think of accidents and fire pits in the same sentence, they tend to think of burns. While burns are indeed the leading type of injury, they are by no means the only one. In fact in a survey completed by a number of emergency rooms around the country who have treated fire pit related injuries, these are among the most commonly treated:

  • Hand and arm burns
  • Head, face, and hair burns
  • Chest, abdomen, and leg burns
  • Broken bones, fractures

These are among the more serious injuries reported. Many more slight burns, cuts, scrapes, and bruises are never reported as they do not require professional medical treatment.

How Do These Fire Pit Tragedies Happen?

There are almost as many reasons for these incidents to occur as there are types of injuries. Most of them occur simply because the owner of the fire pit does not take the steps to educate those who will be around the fire.

    • If you have children who are playing in the same area, they can easily become engrossed in their games and forget all about the pit until it is too late and they run into it. This can and often does result in severe burns and broken bones.
    • It is easy to forget to keep the area around the fire pit clear of debris. You want to keep a stack of firewood handy so you pile it up loosely next to the pit. You have a garden hose ready to douse the fire at the end of the night, but leave it laying out in the grass in the area everyone will be using. Both of these can quickly become tripping hazards to children and adults.
    • The pit does not even have to be lit to cause injuries. For example you have guests over for an evening party, dusk has settled in, and no one has lit the fire. No one can see the pit and after a few drinks, no one is really looking for it.
    • As adults, we all do our best to watch our kids as they play. When there is a fire involved we are at our most vigilant, but it only takes a second for young child to slip over to the fire and hurt themselves.
    • Having more than a few drinks will dull the senses and eventually there may be a mishap.

This video shows a man tripping and falling into a blazing bonfire from dancing, tripping and not being attentive:

The man in the video, lives to tell the tale but as you can see it takes less than a few seconds for a fire pit tragedy to occur, but it can take a lifetime for someone to recover from the most serious ones. Some may never fully recover, consider the case of Neal Pagano who died after falling into his own fire pit in September of 2012. No one is sure how he managed to fall into the pit, but two of his children found him lying in it. The cause of death was a fractured spine and ruled accidental. You can take precautions which will prevent the vast majority ofall fire pit mishaps.

Education Is the Key to Fire Pit Safety

If you want a fire pit in your backyard or campground, it is your responsibility to protect everyone who is likely to come into contact with it. You should never assume that those around you already understand the risks, hazards, and safety protocols involved in being around a fire pit. When it comes to safety, nothing can protect everyone more than knowing what is expected of them. Taking a few minutes to educate your family and guests can save a lifetime of pain and suffering. Some simple tips to preventing a fire pit accident:

  • Teach kids to stay back at least their height in distance from the fire pit. This way if they trip and fall, they miss the pit on the way down.
  • If you plan to toast marshmallows or roast wieners; use forks, skewers, or sticks that are at least three feet long.
  • Make sure everyone who is in your yard is fully aware of where the fire pit is located, especially if it is dark and not lit.
  • Teach all children the importance of staying away from the fire, they love playing with fire.
  • Don’t get drunk, you need to watch your kids!

Never expect other parents to watch their kids, even after you have told them of the dangers. The vast majority of fire pit accidents involving children occur simply because a responsible adult was not watching them. It is up to you to be proactive if you plan to have a fire pit in your yard and you want to eliminate the risk of a fire pit accident. Check out these fire pit safety tips.

The following video will give you some extra tips to keep you safe in your backyard.

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