Picture of a fire pit with a fire

Insurance Implications of a Fire Pit, Grill or Gas Fireplace

In our final of three blog entries about the insurance implications of attractive nuisances like treehouses, swing sets, and swimming pools, we will talk about the dangers of a fire pit, grill or gas fireplace.

Is a fire pit, grill or gas fireplace an attractive nuisance?

To review, an attractive nuisance is a feature on a property that could attract the attention of a child, lure them in and then possibly lead to their harm.  If your property contains things like treehouses, swing sets, swimming pools, a fire pit, fountains or trampolines, these are considered attractive nuisances.  They are considered a premises liability, and you could be held liable for injuries suffered on your property, even if children are trespassing.

Insurance implications of a fire pit, grill or gas fireplace

Similar to water features, if you are considering adding a fire pit or gas fireplace to your property, or already have one, it’s a good idea to review your current policy’s liability coverage.  This coverage may help protect you if you are found legally responsible for a guest or child trespasser’s injuries after getting too close to the flames.

Statistics

There has been an increase in the popularity of fire pits over the past several years.  Among the top outdoor design features, fire pits rank number one.  However, children are a particularly vulnerable population when it comes to burn injuries.  In fact, according to an American Burn Association report, in 2015, unintentional fire or burn injuries were the fifth leading cause of injury-related deaths among children ages 1 to 4 in the U.S. (and the third leading cause for the 5 to 9 age group), and almost one quarter (24%) of all burn injuries happen in children younger than 15 years of age.

It seems there is a correlation between the increase in backyard fire pits and the increase in injuries suffered from them.  At least 5,300 injuries related to fire pits or outdoor heaters were treated at emergency rooms in the U.S. in 2017, which is nearly triple the 1,900 injuries reported in 2008.

Injuries can happen from grills as well, with an average of 8,500 burns resulting from grill fires treated in U.S. emergency rooms every year.

Safety precautions

The National Fire Prevention Association offers the following tips for fire pit safety:

  • Check with your local fire department to be sure fire pits are allowed in your area.
  • Children and pets must be supervised at all times.  Instruct children to stay 10 feet from the fire at all times.
  • Make sure to alert children of the fire every time it’s lit and remind them of the safety rules.
  • Be sure to properly extinguish the fire with all of the necessary tools.
  • Be sure children are aware that fire pits can continue to be hot into the next day.
  • If someone suffers a moderate burn, use cool – not cold – water on the burn for three to five minutes, then cover with a clean, dry cloth.  for serious burns, go to the hospital right away.
  • Make sure to build fires 10 to 20 feet away from any tree or structure, like a garage or shed.
  • Store a fire extinguisher, hose, and fire blanket nearby.
  • Don’t light fires on windy days.

Additionally, it’s a good idea to make sure you prepare a gas line cutoff and disable or secure your ignition source.

Bottom line: be prepared

If you are a parent, it’s important to remember your children will be attracted to explore and play with things like water features, swimming pools, hot tubs, fire pits, tree houses, trampolines and more.  This means you need to be proactive in protecting both your own children from the dangers of other property owners’ attractive nuisances and the neighborhood children that could wander onto your property if you have attractive nuisances of your own.

Supervision, education, proper insurance coverage and specific safety precautions are all ways to avoid the issue of accidental harm associated with an attractive nuisance.

Special thanks to thesimpledollar.com’s Blog for contributing to the content of our Agency’s blog.  Be sure to contact your local Farmers Union Insurance Agent for a review of your homeowners and umbrella insurance policies.  Don’t have an umbrella to increase your liability protection yet?  Be sure to request a comprehensive review as our Agents can offer you coverage from financially reputable carriers.