Firepits have become a backyard staple for many American homeowners. They add atmosphere and aroma to your yard, making it feel like you’re camping in the wilderness and not in Cincinnati. However, many cities across North America have made firepits illegal in backyards due to the safety and environmental risks. Safety should always come before design aesthetic.

In places that are prone to wildfires, like Southern California, lighting a firepit in the backyard can trigger a larger fire and cause serious damage. That’s why many cities will enforce a “burn ban” during certain times of theyear. One solution to this issue is to make sure your firepit is at least 10-30 feet from any house or structure. You can also create a natural gas firepit that burns on propane which is safer for the environment than burning wood.

Firepits can be extremely dangerous for small children to be around. There should always be an adult with children near a firepit, and someone needs to make sure the kids aren’t wearing loose clothing. Even after the firepit is put out, don’t let kids be alone with it. There can still be some lit embers in the pit that can burn you, or even reignite. The same goes for pets, keep them a safe distance from the firepit.

You should never use flammable liquids to light fires. Gasoline and lighter fluid are not intended for backyard campfires or any campfires for that matter. The fluid is so flammable that even the fumes they create in the air can catch fire. If someone lights a match or smokes a cigarette in the vicinity of these fumes they can go up in flames. Some people dangerously use gasoline to light their fire because it looks like an explosion which they find entertaining.

If you do choose to burn real wood as opposed to a natural gas fireplace, avoid using soft woods. Pine and cedar are a soft type of wood that when lit, they can spray and throw sparks in unpredictable directions. Use hard woods like maple and oak. Also, check the direction of the wind before you start the fire. Arrange seating so it’s facing the direction the wind is blowingtowards, this way sparks and smoke aren’t blown into your faces.

Firepits can be a great addition to any backyard looking for some campsite ambiance. However, there are multiple safety concerns that come along with building one. Make sure you learn about all the risks and dangers to avoid damage and injury.