Your fireplace is a source of warmth and ambiance all winter long, but it also can be a source of danger. Exercise these fireplace safety tips to keep your home and family safe while you enjoy your fireplace this winter.
Don’t light a fire before you have your chimney swept.
The best way to protect your home from a chimney fire is by having your chimney swept and inspected before you light your first fire of the season. Your chimney sweeping removes highly flammable creosote from your chimney, along with any blockages caused by animals or natural debris like leaves and twigs. The inspection ensures that your chimney and fireplace are free from any damage or deterioration that could make using your fireplace unsafe.
Clear the area around your fireplace.
Embers or excessive heat from your fireplace can ignite nearby objects, such as furniture, rugs, blankets and pillows. Make sure you keep all flammable objects three feet or more from your hearth. And don’t forget to check your mantel to make sure there isn’t any dangling décor that could ignite.
Burn only seasoned firewood.
Make sure that you are only burning wood that has been properly seasoned. That is, wood that has been dried for at least six months. Seasoned firewood burns hotly and efficiently, slowing the buildup of creosote within your chimney. Never burn anything in your fireplace that wasn’t intended as fireplace fuel, including wrapping paper, cardboard and Christmas tree remnants.
Build a small fire at the back of your fireplace.
Start your fire by building a small fire at the back of your fireplace grate. This can prevent flare ups and prevent embers from escaping the fireplace. Gradually build the fire up to the desired size.
Leave fireplace doors open.
Never close the glass doors of your open hearth fireplace while a fire is burning. Partially closed door inhibits the air flow to your fire and reduces the efficiency of the burn, which allows creosote to build up faster in your flue. Closing the fireplace doors entirely can cause a buildup of pressure in the fireplace that can cause the glass doors to burst dangerously.
Use a fire screen.
Cover the opening of your firebox with a fire screen each time you burn a fire. A screen prevents embers from popping out of your fireplace and igniting nearby objects or burning people who are near the hearth.
Make sure your smoke detectors are working!
One of the best things you can do to keep your family safe is to make sure you have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors installed on each floor of your home and near your bedrooms. Check the detectors regularly to make sure that the batteries have power and that the detectors are working. Keep a functioning fire extinguisher near your fireplace.
When you exercise caution and set up your hearth with safety in mind, you can enjoy your fireplace safely all winter long!