Your fireplace adds warmth and comfort to your home during the cold winter months. It also can add worry, about potential burns or a potential home fire. Following our fire safety tips can help keep you, your family, and your home safe while still enjoying the benefits of your fireplace or heating stove.
- Create a “safe zone” around your fireplace. Make sure all flammable materials, including furniture, papers, blankets, pillows, toys, and décor, have been removed from the area surrounding your fireplace. There should be at least a 2-foot “safe zone” surrounding your fire place that is devoid of anything that could burn.
- Place a metal screen over your open-hearth fireplace. A metal screen prevents embers from jumping out of the fireplace and igniting a nearby object. It also keeps things from accidentally falling into the fireplace.
- Consider a safety gate. If you have children or pets in your home, you may want to consider installing a safety gate around the fireplace. There are safety gates specifically made for hearths. They keep children and pets a safe distance away and include a door for easy access to the fireplace or stove.
- Only burn items intended for your fireplace. Burning cardboard, Christmas trees, wrapping paper, trash or other items can cause a dangerous flare up or produce toxic fumes. Never use a fire accelerant, as they can cause a fire that is too hot for your chimney to handle.
- Leave fireplace doors open while a fire is burning. Closing or partially closing the glass doors on an open-hearth fireplace causing fires to burn and draft improperly, which can pose a hazard.
- Allow ashes to cool for at least 24 hours before removing them from the fireplace. If you remove ashes too early, you risk removing still burning embers. Always remove ash to a metal bucket, and remove it from the living areas of your home to a well ventilated area, as smoldering ashes can release carbon monoxide.
- Have your chimney cleaned at least once per year. Dirty, creosote-lined chimneys are the leading cause of chimney fires. Having your chimney cleaned and inspected each year ensures that it is free from creosote, obstructions and damage that could cause a chimney fire. If you burn more than three cords of firewood per year, your chimney should be cleaned twice during the wood-burning season.
- Equip your home with smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. There should be a smoke and carbon monoxide detector on each floor of your home, and directly outside sleeping areas. Make sure you change the batteries at least twice per year, and test the detectors regularly to make sure they’re working. Everyone in your home should know what to do if the detectors sound: Exit the house and meet at a predetermined location.
If you have any questions or concerns about the safe operation of your fireplace, heating stove or chimney, call the experts at The Chimney Sweeper. We consider it part of our jobs to make sure you know how to use your fireplace safely.