Fireplaces can bring beauty and charm to any home, but if you are going to have a wood fireplace, it’s important that you take care of it properly. According to FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) nearly 36 percent of all residential fires that take place in a rural area are caused by heating fires. With this high percentage of accidental fires caused by heating units, such as a fireplace, it is vital that you take the proper precautions.
Here are some fire safety tips to keep you and your family safe this winter season.
The National Fire Protection Agency suggests having your chimney cleaned at least one time each year. It is best to have this done before you need to use the fireplace for the season. A professional chimney sweep has the tools necessary to clean your chimney and have it ready to use for when the cold weather moves in. You should also have your chimney inspected on an annual basis to make sure the structure is stable and there are no cracked or lose bricks. The chimney liners should also be check for cracks. Any repairs should be made before you use your fireplace.
Install a Glass Door or Mesh Screen
A great safety measure to add to your fireplace is a glass door or a mesh screen. This can prevent members of your family or a guest from accidental burns and prevent debris from falling into the fireplace. If you use a glass door, you should always keep the door opened when using the fireplace to give the fire air. A mesh screen can be pulled across the front of the fireplace while the doors are opened. In addition, the door should be closed securely when not using the fireplace to prevent debris from filtering into your fire pit.
Keep Things Away
Take a look around your fireplace and make sure that there is no debris, household decorations, or any types of flammable material. Remember that sparks can fly out of the fireplace at any time and you do not want it to land on anything that could start a fire. This is especially true over the holiday season, when you may have different types of decorations set up. Decorations are great, but be sure to keep them a safe distance away from your fireplace. If you have small children, make sure they keep their toys and other materials away from the fire. A safety guard is also a great idea if you have small children, as this will prevent them from getting too close to the fire. Also, be sure to check and make sure your kiddos pajamas haven’t been recalled for being too flammable.
The Right Fire
You should never use flammable liquids in a fireplace. Instead, use kindling to start the fire and then add the larger pieces of firewood. You want to keep your fire relatively small and under control at all times. Fresh wood can be as much as 45 percent water, so you want to be sure to purchase fireplace wood that has been dried and cleaned properly. This will help start the fire quicker and make it safer to burn. You also should avoid using green wood in a fireplace, because it can leave of creosote, which can build up in your fireplace.
Fireplaces are not just beautiful, but they provide a great alternative heating source for your home. This can help lower your energy bills and improve the comfort level in your home. Although fireplaces can be dangerous if not maintained properly, following the tips above will keep you and your family safe throughout the cold season.
About the Author:
Angie Nelson is an outdoors enthusiast and is also an advocate for fire safety. Photo courtesy of doctor_bob.