As winter approaches and the holiday season nears, there is nothing like relaxing in front of the fireplace. Its warmth and glow create a welcoming ambiance. Fireplace safety may be at the back of your mind, but it is important to contact a reputable company for chimney cleaning at least once a year! According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the leading cause for home heating fires–primarily chimneys–is from failure to clean equipment. Here are some holiday fireplace safety tips, to keep your homes and families safe and warm this winter:
Have you chimney swept and inspected once a year.
Make sure your fireplace is clean and safe to use by contacting a reputable chimney cleaning company at least once per year. If you have not used your fireplace in years, then contact a professional service provider immediately. Unclean chimneys are a recipe for, not just costly repairs, but potentially dangerous situations.
Keep combustible materials away from the fireplace.
The NFPA recommends keeping all combustible materials at least three feet away from the hearth and firebox opening of any wood-burning fireplaces or stoves. This is especially important for fireplaces located in the bedroom where people are sleeping or napping. This includes not just newspapers and fire starters, but also decorations such as Christmas trees and other plants that may accidentally fall into the firebox.
Clean out ashes regularly.
The NFPA states that as many as 50 percent of all home heating fires can be prevented by cleaning out ashes at least once per day. This may not always be possible if you don’t have easy access to your fireplace or stovetop after each use (e.g., if you live in an apartment building). Nonetheless, it is still recommended that individuals empty ashes at least once every two days to prevent accumulation of creosote. Dispose of cooled ashes outside of the home.
Use a fireplace screen to burn safely.
Always use a screen to keep sparks from flying outside of your fireplace. Sparks from fires can travel up to 100 feet away from a fireplace before extinguishing themselves.
Use the proper fuel that is compatible to the fireplace.
Using the correct fuel for your fireplace is incredibly important. Do not burn paper or plastic within your fireplace, as these materials can rise and coat the inside of your chimney.
For wood burning units: Use wood that has been dried properly.
Dry wood burns better than wet wood, so be sure to check with your local firewood dealer on how much moisture is in their wood before buying it. Wood with increased moisture content causes creosote to build up faster within the flue. Click here to learn more about firewood efficiency and safety.
Make sure your chimney damper is open.
Before you start a fire and during burning, make sure the flue damper is open for proper ventilation. Keeping the flue damper closed or partially open can lead to smoke accumulating in the chimney and escaping into the interior of the home.
Ensure your smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector are working — it could save your life!
Have at least one working smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector on every floor of your home — and test them monthly! This is incredibly important in keeping yourself and your family safe when you have a fireplace in your home.
Completely extinguish the fire before leaving the house or going to bed.
Hot embers and ash are still capable of igniting. Always make sure the fire is completely extinguished whenever you leave or go to bed. Never leave a fire burning unattended, as there is no way to react or respond if something happens.
The holidays are the best time to enjoy your fireplace and create lasting memories! Safety is our number one priority, so keep these tips in mind as your light your fireplace!