Fireplaces contribute to warm and cozy living spaces in winter. They boost the aesthetic appeal of a room and provide warmth on cold nights. However, it’s important to use care when enjoying a fire. Fireplace and chimney issues can pose hazards to your family and property. Here are a few tips to improve fireplace safety and reduce the risk.
Tips for Safety While Using the Fireplace
1. Keep the Area Around the Hearth Clear
Before starting a fire, verify the area around the fireplace is clear and clean. Remove flammable rugs, furniture, or home decor that might be too close to the hearth. Teach children and pets to stay away from the fireplace. Before building a fire, make sure there’s a clear path from the fireplace to exit the room in an emergency.
2. Use the Right Type of Wood
Using well-seasoned hardwood promotes safety when using a fireplace. Don’t use wet or rotten wood as fuel as this causes creosote buildup, elevating the risk of chimney fires. Never burn painted or treated wood that releases harmful chemicals when burned. Damp or “green” wood contributes to smokey fires and creosote accumulation in the chimney. Verify your firewood has a moisture content of 20% or less.
3. Fireplace Safety: Install a Chimney Cap
The chimney cap is an often overlooked aspect of fireplace safety. A chimney cap prevents rain and wind from blowing down the chimney. It also keeps leaves, pine needles, and other debris out. These materials can lead to a blockage and ignite, causing a chimney fire. Inspect your chimney cap to verify it’s in good condition. Hire a chimney pro to replace it if it’s missing or damaged.
4. Regularly Clean the Chimney
Creosote is a flammable material, and the buildup poses a danger to your home. It can ignite, leading to a chimney fire. Have a professional chimney sweep clean the chimney yearly. The sweep will remove buildup, soot, and debris that accumulated.
5. Use a Fireplace Screen to Promote Safety
A fireplace screen prevents sparks and embers from flying out of the fire onto the floor or furniture, protecting your belongings. Additionally, a screen helps keep children and pets away from the fire, preventing accidental burns.
6. Always Extinguish the Fire Before Leaving
When finished using the fireplace, extinguish the fire thoroughly. Wait for the flames to die down and use a poker to spread out the logs and embers. Shovel cool ashes over the embers and then sprinkle baking soda on top. Extinguish the fire completely before leaving the house or going to bed. Never leave your fireplace unattended while a fire is still burning.
These helpful tips allow you to use your fireplace safely and prevent hazards. Prioritize your safety by learning the proper use and maintenance of your home’s fireplace. A well-maintained fireplace will provide warmth and comfort without risking your family’s or home’s safety.