Chimineas are wonderful things, transforming chilly outdoor spaces into cosy places to chat, party and eat alfresco, day and night. But, just the same as anything do to with fire, you need to take great care around them, especially when there are children around.
According to ROSPA, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, more accidents happen at home than anywhere else, with around 6000 annual deaths in the home. Over 2 million children under 15 are taken to A&E because of an accident, and 13 under-four year olds suffer a serious injury from a burn or a scald every day.
Bear in mind that chiminea accidents are very rare occurrences. Using common sense plus a few basic safety tips means you’ll join the 99.99% of people who use theirs safely and enjoyably for years.
Here are some of the horror stories reported in recent years, revealing what not to do around your chiminea. Plus some sensible chiminea safety tips. If you’re a chiminea owner or about to buy one, read and inwardly digest this!
Chiminea safety – Horrible accidents to avoid
In 2012 a chiminea garden heater accident saw a man badly burned when he tried to light it with lawn mower petrol. He suffered terrible 30% burns and three fire engines had to be involved. Apparently the man tried to light his chiminea with four stroke unleaded lawnmower petrol. The lesson? You should only use flammable products designed for chimineas, never any other kind. It can be absolutely lethal, as our next story reveals. In 2014 a teenaged girl was killed when someone incredibly stupid threw petrol on the chiminea she was standing near.
Apparently there have also been several deaths through using outdoor heaters like chiminea indoors, thanks to Carbon Monoxide poisoning. Which, quite apart from the fire risk, is why we never, ever recommend using a chiminea or fire pit indoors.
18 safety tips for chimineas
As you can see, accidents and injuries do happen, even though they’re really rare. Here are our chiminea safety tips.
- Explain carefully to children how dangerous fire is, and tell them not to touch the chiminea when it’s being used, or poke sticks into it, or anything that gets them too close for safety… just as you’d do with any type of fire
- Never let the kids run around near the chiminea – much better safe than sorry
- If you let the kids add fuel the chiminea, supervise them closely
- Sit the chimenea on a flat surface so it can’t overbalance
- Make sure the surface isn’t flammable, so it can’t set on fire – not on the grass or decking
- Never site it under an awning or near washing – heat rises, which can set it on fire. An awning can also prevent the smoke escaping. Chiminea sites should always be really well ventilated to keep you safe from deadly Carbon Monoxide
- Don’t stash the fuel close to the chiminea, in case sparks ignite it
- The same goes for trees, plants and shrubs, and garden furniture
- Don’t use your chiminea when it’s windy – the sparks and embers can blow around and start fires
- Never use it indoors, under any circumstances
- Keep pets away
- Always use a fireguard whenever possible
- Never touch the surface of your chimenea. Use fire gloves and utensils
- Don’t use too much fuel. If there are flames coming out the top, your fire is too big. There’s no need – it’ll warm up beautifully with a small fire inside
- Never fuel your chiominea with paraffin, firelighters or any other kind of fuel not specifically designed for the job
- Don’t leave a burning chiminea unattended
- Completely extinguish the fire before leaving it
- Grown-ups’ safety tip: it’s never wise to be drunk around a chiminea. If you’re tiddly, steer clear!
Chimineas are safe – people are the problem!
A chiminea isn’t intrinsically unsafe. It’s the way some people use them that’s the problem. Exercise common sense, keep children clear and you’ll enjoy yours for years to come without so much as a sniff of an accident.