With the seasonal shift to fall comes cooler weather, earlier nights, and bonfires to gather around with friends and family. But when it comes to lighting a flame outdoors there can be risks—and how those risks relate to your homeowner’s insurance bring about another level of concern. In this article, we’ll explore basic fire safety for all the cozy nights (and productive days!) you have planned this autumn.
Types of outdoor fires and how to make them safer
There are a lot of reasons to be outside once the fall air turns crisp. From cleaning up fallen leaves to celebrating with those closest to you, here are some of the most common reasons people light up outside, and how to make them a bit safer.
With football tailgates comes outdoor barbeques, and you may find yourself at the grill a bit more often than before. But if you find yourself watching over the cookout, make sure you practice grill safety: stay with the grill the entire time it’s on, move the grill away from decking or siding that may be more flammable, and keep your grill clean so a grease fire doesn’t catch you unaware.
Nothing says “fall” more than sitting around a fire pit or bonfire with s’mores on hand, but a fire pit is also a common way for fire to get loose in the yard. If hanging around the fire with friends is on your fall to-do list, make sure your fire is at least three feet away from the house as well as anything that could easily catch fire, and use a metal screen to keep sparks at bay. When you’re done, check that the fire is out completely before you leave it alone for the night.
When the fall leaves make a dense carpet in your backyard, it’s natural to want to clean them out—whether to keep underlying grass healthy or to prevent snakes and other pests from taking cover. There are a number of preferable ways to clear out dead leaves other than a burn pile—such as bagging them up in biodegradable bags or chopping them up in the mower to mulch the lawn for the winter—but if you must burn, there are a few precautions you should take.
Firstly, check the weather, and never burn on super dry or windy days, when flames could jump or scatter. Also, look for a place that is flat, and never under branches or power lines. Add a moat around the perimeter of your pile for added safety, and make sure you douse the pile—not once, but twice, once you are done for the day.
Are outdoor fires covered by insurance?
While many will assume that a runaway fire would be covered by homeowners’ insurance, the reality is a bit more complicated. Grills and fire pits are typically considered personal belongings, as well as an “unattached structure.” This means that—typically—any damage will only be covered at a percentage of the insurance you carry for your entire home, usually about ten percent. So if an ember sparks something bigger and affects your shed or garage, it could mean big bucks out of pocket.
For this reason, it’s a good idea to know your coverage limits and liabilities—before you start up the fire pit for the season. Talking with your insurance agent about your own practices, hobbies and concerns is a great way to determine if you’re at risk, and if so, how much risk you’re taking on when you light the match.
For your homeowner’s policy, or any other insurance requirements you have, Penny Insurance has the experience and expertise to walk you through, every step of the way. Should you have any questions about coverage or insurance types, or if you would like to schedule a consultation or get a quote, please contact us and let us know.