FIREPLACE SAFETY IN YOUR HOME
The days are getting shorter and colder, and our thoughts are turning to ways to stay warm – that means more time indoors. Here are some tips on ensuring you and your family enjoy a warm and safe winter….
- Do not leave a fire burning in your fireplace unattended. All sorts of unexpected things can happen — there can be a pocket of moisture or sap inside a log which can cause it to pop with the heat. If it pops out past your screen and ends up on the carpet or furniture, rather than on the hearth, you can wake up to a nasty surprise.
- Be sure the draft is working correctly before lighting the fire.
- Invest in a pair of fireproof gloves (welding gloves will work) in case a piece of burning wood falls out and you need to retrieve it immediately.
- Be sure that your chimney and fireplace is properly cleaned and maintained. Checking for cracks once per year will ensure that you don’t have fire escaping the chimney and lighting the frame of your home. That would not be good. Eliminating creosote buildup (oily soot) from the inside of the chimney will keep you from suffering a chimney fire, which is a terrible thing — very hard to put out, and very destructive.
Fireplaces – Have your chimney inspected by a professional prior to the start of every heating season and cleaned if necessary. Creosote, a chemical substance that forms when wood burns, builds up in chimneys and can cause a chimney fire if not removed through cleaning. Always protect your home and your family by using a sturdy fireplace screen when burning fires. Remember to burn only wood – never burn paper or pine boughs, which can float out the chimney and ignite your roof or a neighboring home. Do not use flammable liquids in a fireplace. If you are purchasing a factory-built fireplace, select one listed by a testing laboratory, and have it installed according to local codes. If you decorate your fireplace with Christmas stockings or other seasonal decorations, don’t burn fires in it.
Winter Fire Safety Tips
In this age of high energy cost, the price of heating the home will increase. People will be searching for alternate sources to heat their homes. Some of the many ways people will stay warm this winter include; wood burning stoves, electric space heaters, kerosene heaters, fireplaces, and furnaces.
Although acceptable, these methods are a major contributor to residential fires each year, many of which could have been prevented with proper fire safety measures. Following the links below you will find fire safety tips which can help you maintain a fire safe home this winter.
Adding insulation to your house can save energy but, you should have a qualified electrician check your homes electrical system for deficiencies. When installing insulation always, make sure insulation is kept away from ceiling light fixtures and other heat sources.
Wood burning appliances – stoves and fireplaces
Experts do not recommend the purchase or installation of any wood burning stove unless it is air-tight and has controlled airflow. If you are burning a lot of wood, your stovepipe and chimney may have a heavy buildup of creosote which can lead to a fire in your chimney which could spread to the roof of your home. Fireplace chimneys should be inspected and cleaned at least once a year, stovepipe chimneys check once a month and clean as needed.
Insure proper installation.
Adequate clearance for wood stoves, at least 36 inches from combustible surfaces. Insure you have adequate floor support and protection.
Wood stoves should be of good quality, solid construction and design, and should be UL listed.
Have a chimney professionally inspected annually and cleaned if necessary, especially if it has not been used in some time.
Do not use flammable liquids to start or accelerate a fire in a fireplace or wood stove.
Keep a glass or metal screen in front of the fireplace opening to prevent embers or sparks from escaping
A wood-burning stove should be burned hot twice a day for 15 to 30 minutes to reduce the amount of creosote buildup.
Don’t use excessive amounts of paper to build roaring fires in fireplaces or wood stoves. Overbuilding the fire could ignite creosote in the chimney.
Never burn charcoal indoors. Burning charcoal can give off lethal amounts of carbon monoxide.
Keep flammable materials away from your fireplace or wood stove mantel. A spark from the fireplace could easily ignite these materials.
Before you go to sleep, be sure your fireplace fire is out. Never close your damper with hot ashes in the fireplace or wood stove. A closed damper can help rekindle the fire, forcing toxic carbon monoxide into the house.
If synthetic logs are used, follow the directions on the package. Never break a synthetic log apart to quicken the fire, and never use more than one log at a time. They often burn unevenly, releasing higher levels of carbon monoxide.