Backyard gatherings and late nights around the fire are fun, leisurely summer activities, but not when said fire is a safety hazard.
Outdoor furnishing companies are offering more fire-free lighting alternatives this season, which is welcome news for safety-conscious consumers. A recent string of accidents involving fire gel fuel, including a case in New York that left a 14-year-old boy in critical condition, has caused manufacturer Napa Home and Garden to stop selling its fire gel bottles and jugs and file for bankruptcy, according to press releases.
The danger of refillable fire gel or oil is that the flame sometimes appears to be extinguished when it is not. If someone attempts to add fuel to the open flame, an explosion may occur, resulting in flaming fuel and shrapnel.
But new, safe alternatives can keep nighttime gatherings fire free without sacrificing the flickering ambiance of firelight or diminishing the aesthetic beauty of an outdoor patio.
Stick to solar
Solar-powered backyard lighting, like tiki torches and lanterns, are safe and environmentally friendly options. Brinkmann offers a Fiji Torch Solar Powered Garden Accent Light, which is powered by LED technology that charges during the day and turns on automatically at night. Moonrays also has plenty of solar-powered lights, including path and deck lights. These types of products are available at many home and garden stores.
Batteries can power elegant backyard lighting alternatives. Several candle and decor retailers offer indoor/outdoor flameless candles, ranging in size and battery type. These candles replicate a traditional candle, complete with a flickering glow and visible wick. When paired with beautiful cases, like the Restoration Hardware's Duomo Lanterns, it's difficult to tell the difference between a real candle and their battery-powered counterparts.
Sometimes it's hard to beat the real deal. Protective gates and hinged doors can protect kids, pets and clumsy guests. Landmann's Aspen fire pit comes complete with steel mesh protection and a removable ash drawer to make cleaning easier.
And if a refillable fire accessory is still desired, the best bet is to extinguish the flame manually before adding more fuel, even if it looks like it's already out, and never allow guests or children to refill.