During the winter, fireplaces (the traditional wood-burning, plus gas ones) are often used as primary heating sources in homes; they’re both décor-fashionable and functional additions.
But sometimes fireplace safety can be ignored, often resulting in burned or damaged homes and even lost lives.
Here are a few safety tips to ensure that your fireplace (or wood stove) not only stays beautiful, but is also a safe feature of the household:
Never leave a fire unattended; make sure it’s completely out before you go to bed or leave the house. Thoroughly wet and completely saturate the ashes with water; never empty ash directly into a trash can. Once they’re completely cooled, place the ashes in a tightly covered metal container; keep the container at least 10 feet away from any building.
Use either a metal mesh screen or glass doors-or both-to act as a barrier between the fireplace and hearth. Have glass doors? Leave them open while burning a fire so that the fire will receive enough air to ensure complete combustion and keep creosote (a dark brown to black flammable tar deposited inside a chimney flue when wood, especially pine or other resinous wood, is burned) from building up in the chimney. For those with metal mesh screens, always closed them closed when a fire’s burning to prevent flying embers or sparks from getting into the room.
- Never use flammable liquids to start a fire or to burn trash or cardboard boxes in your fireplace. Use only seasoned hardwood (non-seasoned wood tends to burn less efficiently and smoke more, and will also leave far more resin and soot in the chimney).
- Never burn any part of a pine or fir tree in a fireplace (the sap can cause an explosion; also, the tree needles can quickly ignite, sending sparks into the room or up the chimney).
- And don’t forget to have the chimney thoroughly cleaned once a year (to get rid of buildups, accumulations and for overall chimney maintenance). Check out www.csia.org to find certified, licensed chimney sweeps and specialists.
For more fire safety tips, go to www.usfa.fema.gov.
Source: “Fireplace tips can help keep your family safe”-Home Builders and Remodelers Association-Valley Homes-Feb. 3, 2013