Fireplace Safety Guidelines
According to the National Fire Protection Association, more than a third of home heating fires in the U.S. involve fireplaces and chimneys. Over half of these fires were caused by failure to clean the chimney or by objects placed too closely to the heat source. Read the tips below to learn how to use your fireplace safely this winter:
- Before the heating season, hire a professional chimney sweep to inspect and remove creosote or other obstructions, such as animal nests, from the chimney.
- If your chimney doesn’t have a cap at the top, have one installed to prevent debris or animals from entering the chimney.
- Keep any flammable objects (i.e. newspapers, books or furniture) at least 2 feet away from the fireplace.
- Make sure there is a fire extinguisher in the room, and that your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are working.
- Use only dry, seasoned wood cut to the correct length.
- Have a mesh metal screen or fire screen installed to prevent embers from shooting out of the fireplace.
- When starting a fire:
- Remove the ashes from the previous fire. Leaving the ashes will result in more smoke, as it reduces the air supply to wood. Put the ashes in a metal container with a tight lid and store it outside the house.
- Open the damper; you may have to look up into the chimney with a mirror or flashlight to check that it’s open.
- Place crumpled paper on the grate and cover it with kindling or other Firestarter. Add the firewood once the kindling is burning brightly. Then, close the fire screen.
- Don’t overload the fireplace; a large fire generates more smoke and can damage your chimney.
- Never use flammable liquids to start a fire and don’t burn plastic, garbage or other toxic materials.
- Use fireplace tools to maintain the fire.
- Keep children and pets at a safe distance from the fire.
- Always supervise the fire and never leave it burning when going to sleep or leaving the home.
- Close the damper only when the embers have cooled off.
If you have a portable fireplace, check out these safety tips. More information about heating equipment safety can be found here. For professional fire, water and mold restoration services, contact your local PuroClean office.