A fire pit makes a great backyard feature. Make sure you prep for safety while using it. (Photo: Dreamstime/TNS).

A fire pit is a perfect addition to your backyard for gatherings after dark. After all, the bright glow and the warm crackling of the fire is the ideal backdrop for a lovely evening’s entertainment. They’ll bring beauty to your outdoor space and perhaps make your home more attractive when it comes time to sell.

You can build the pit yourself or hire a professional to do the work. A DIY fire pit kit usually costs between $200 and $400. This will include stones or pavers to build the structure, a steel ring that frames the interior, and lava rocks to line the floor. A prefab fire pit is usually the least expensive option, and it’s easier and faster to assemble. However, they don’t tend to last as long as custom-built fire pits, and you don’t have a lot of options to customize.

If you hire a landscaping professional to construct a fire pit, the cost will average around $700, although high-end pits will set you back more than $1,000.

The biggest advantage of hiring a pro is that you can customize it exactly to your style and needs. You might install a classic circular stone pit with red rocks for an earthy look, or a rectangular gas-fueled pit with glass crystals for a modern, sophisticated look. Take care that whatever materials you use are capable of handling the high temperatures. Some kinds of concrete and glass could crack or explode under the heat.

Most fire pits use firewood or charcoal as fuel. However, you can also install a gas line or electric flames for a customizable, turnkey fire source. Since these involve running extra electrical or gas lines, the cost will go up accordingly. You can also use propane tanks.

When installing a pit, consider adding other fixtures to enhance its use. For example, a permanent sitting wall around the pit provides more ideal seating than folding chairs in many cases.

Stay safe for the holiday (and the rest of the year!)

While we’re thinking about fire pits as Independence Day nears, it’s an excellent time to take stock of fire safety measures. Whenever you have an active fire going in a pit or fireplace, or if you’re lighting fireworks, make sure you have a fire extinguisher nearby.

An extinguisher is an essential tool of home safety and can be purchased for a reasonable price. It’s a good idea to have one fire extinguisher for every floor of your home, in an easily accessible place. The kitchen should always have a fire extinguisher nearby.

Fire extinguishers are rated by class. In most cases, the best extinguisher for a home is an ABC model, which works on ordinary combustibles, flammable liquids, and electrical equipment.

Make sure everyone in the household knows where the extinguisher is and how to use it. The National Fire Protection Association recommends remembering the word PASS:
• Pull the pin.
• Aim low at the base of the fire.
• Squeeze the lever slowly and evenly.
• Sweep the nozzle from side to side.

By Paul F. P. Pogue, Ask Angi (TNS). Visit at angi.com.