Have a Fireplace? Reduce the Risk of Accidental Fire
Every winter millions of homeowners light their fireplace to provide supplemental heating for their living space. But with creosote residue, flaming embers and temperatures rising to over 1,100 F, the risk of an accidental fire is a reality. When using your fireplace this winter keep these fireplace safety tips in mind to reduce the risk of an accidental fire.
Have Your Chimney Inspected and Cleaned
If you’ve not used your fireplace for some time, scheduling for a chimney inspection is very crucial. The majority of house fires start from un-swept chimneys. As the creosote levels accumulate, high temperatures and burning embers can ignite the creosote causing a fire in the chimney that can quickly spread throughout the entire home. During a chimney inspection, our certified chimney sweep will measure the creosote levels to determine the level of cleaning required to reduce the risk of a fire.
Besides checking the creosote levels, the chimney sweep also checks the fireplace and chimney to check for physical damages and obstructions that can be a safety hazard. Small animals like bats, birds, and squirrels can build nests in the chimney causing obstructions. Severe weather from freezing rain and snow can also cause structural damage. A certified chimney sweep will make sure your chimney is free from obstacles and recommend any necessary repairs.
Learn How to Light a Fire Properly
When starting the fire, always make sure the fireplace damper is open all the way. This way, you won’t be restricting air supply, and the smoke and toxic contaminants will vent through the chimney. Exposure to smoke from your fireplace may cause various health issues including exposure to carbon monoxide poisoning. Opening the damper allows the smoke to leave safely through the chimney and out of your home. Also, be careful when choosing your wood. To prevent excess smoke and high creosote levels, only use seasoned wood. Your fire burn more efficiently with less smoke.
Make Your Fireplace Child-Proof
When the fire is burning inside the fireplace, children should be supervised at all times to prevent fire-related injuries. Keep the fireplace glass door closed whenever children or pets are present. If possible, consider installing a hearth gate around the fireplace. Do not allow children to light the fireplace and when they get older teach them the importance of fireplace safety. Children should know that a fire is very hot and to maintain a safe distance from the fireplace.
Keep the Fireplace Clean
Always keep debris and clutter away from the fireplace. A fireplace is a warm and inviting space, but it can also be dangerous. Keep extra firewood, newspapers and kindling away from any burning embers. If possible, install a fireplace screen to prevent ash, hot embers and sparks from jumping out of the fireplace. Flammable items such as aerosols, nail polish and stain removers should also be kept away from the fireplace. These products contain flammable fumes that can cause a dangerous flash fire when ignited by the heat of the fireplace. To reduce the risk of a roof fire, ask your chimney solutions provider to install a chimney cap with a spark arrestor.
Never Leave a Fireplace Unattended
Fire safety experts warn homeowners to never leave a burning fireplace unattended. Without proper supervision, a chimney fire can occur and spread very quickly. Before retiring to bed or leaving the house, make sure the fire has been completely extinguished. And, keep the damper partially open until the fire is out.
Install a smoke detector and a carbon monoxide detector on each level of your home. Test and replace batteries at least twice per year. Also, keep a fire extinguisher in an accessible location. In case of a fire, remain calm, get everyone to safety and call 9-1-1.