Nothing quite creates winter ambiance in the fireplace with everyone gathered around. Of course, playing with fire is dangerous for children, so please remember these tips before you light your hearth. According to the latest statistics available, there are over 25,000 fireplace fires per year in the US that are responsible for over 125 million dollars in property damage. The most sobering statistics relate to deaths and injuries that can result from chimney fires that spread into house fires.
10 Tips to Stay Warm + Safe by the Fireplace this Fall.
1 Retain a qualified professional chimney service technician to inspect and clean your chimney annually.
2Make sure the area around the fireplace is clear of anything that is potentially flammable
(ie: furniture, drapes, newspapers, books, etc.). If these items get too close to the fireplace, or if a piece of wood “pops” and throws sparks, they could catch fire. Put fireplace tools and accessories out of a young child’s reach. Also, remove any lighters and matches.
3Use dry and well-aged wood.
Wet or green wood causes more smoke and contributes to soot buildup in the chimney. Dried wood burns with less smoke and burns more evenly
4Be certain the damper or flue is open before starting a fire.
Keeping the damper or flue open until the fire is out will draw smoke out of the house. The damper is checked by looking up into the chimney with a flashlight or mirror. Do not close the damper until the embers have completely stopped burning.
5Avoid burning treated wood in your fireplace.
Place firewood or logs towards the rear of the fireplace on a supporting grate, and make a top-down approach. Smaller pieces of wood placed on a grate burn faster and produce less smoke.
6Before starting a new fire, clean out the ashes from the previous fire.
Make sure the damper or flue is open before igniting the fire. Levels of ash at the base of the fireplace should be kept to 1 inch or less because a thicker layer restricts the air supply to logs, resulting in more smoke.
7Communicate to children as early as possible the dangers of fires and the heat generated from them.
9 Keep a fire extinguisher on hand.
Make sure you have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are installed throughout the house and test them monthly.
10Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended.
Make sure it is completely out before going to bed or leaving the house. If you leave the room while the fire is burning or the fireplace is still hot, take your small child with you.
Keep the Outside of Your Home and Your Chimney Safe
Firewood should be stacked at least 30 feet away from your home. Your roof and chimney should be kept clean of leaves, pine needles and other debris. Prune trees and branches to keep them away from your chimney. Install a chimney cap with spark arrester to help keep debris, leaves, branches and animals out, and to help prevent burning embers or sparks from escaping and creating a fire hazard.
Keep the Inside of Your Home Safe with Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
To help make your winter even safer, we recommend that you take the time to test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. A smoke detector is the most effective way to detect smoke from a fire and signal an alarm so that you can get you and your family out safely. A carbon monoxide detector can alert you to the buildup of this dangerous odorless and colorless gas. Make sure you test the detectors monthly, and after you change the batteries to ensure they work properly.