According to the 2016 Residential Landscape Architecture Trends Survey conducted by the American Society of Landscape Architects fire pits are one of the "hottest" requested design features. Whether your pit is a metal ring or an elaborate brick construction, follow these tips to stay safe while enjoying it.

1. Never build a fire pit with smooth river rocks. While aesthetically pleasing, they can heat rapidly and explode. Lining your pit with rough stones is a much safer choice.

2. Make sure to place your pit at least 10 feet away from any structures, fencing or other flammable material.

3. Check that your Home Owners Association (HOA) or local authority allows open fires in your yard BEFORE you install your fire pit.

4. Find a level place for your fire pit. Make sure you don't place your pit under telephone or electrical wires. Dig with CARE! Call 811 before you dig or check out the website at http://va811.com/

5. Never burn pressurized wood. It may contain toxins that release noxious fumes when burned.

6. Don't go overboard. Keep your fire constrained to an appropriate size for your fire pit. There's (hopefully) no need for a blaze big enough to deter warring villagers.

7. Be sure to check the weather. Gusty winds predicted? Then it's probably not a good night to enjoy your fire pit. Remember, it only takes one flying ember to ignite a wayward fire.

8. Don't use kerosene or gasoline to light your fire. Go old school and stick with kindling. It's much safer.

9. Plan ahead: Keep a bucket of water, sand or a fire extinguisher nearby.

Posted by Earl Sanders on

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