As the weather starts to get colder outside, you and your family often look for ways to stay warm inside, such as gathering around the fireplace. Unfortunately, fireplaces can be dangerous. Follow these tips to keep your family and home safe.
- Keep a nearby window cracked open while the fire is burning, if possible.
- Make sure the damper or flue is open before starting a fire. This allows the smoke to be drawn out of the house. You can check the damper by looking up the chimney with a flashlight. Do not close the damper until the embers have stopped burning completely.
- In the fire, use dry and well-aged wood. Wet wood produces more smoke and contributes to soot buildup in the chimney. When the wood is dry it burns more evenly and produces less smoke.
- Before starting a fire, clean out the ashes from any previous fires. The level of ash at the base of the fireplace should be 1 inch or less. Thicker layers of ash restrict the air supply to the logs, resulting in more smoke.
- The chimney should be checked by a professional annually.
- Even if your chimney is not due for cleaning, it is important to check for any blockages that could prevent smoke escaping.
- Clear the area around the fireplace of anything that is potentially flammable. If these items get too close to the fireplace, they could catch fire.
- If you have a switch on the wall that turns on your fireplace, consider covering the switch to prevent children from turning the gas or fireplace on.
- Never leave an active fire in the fireplace unattended. Before going to bed or leaving the house, make sure the fire is completely out. Never leave children unattended around a fire.
- Place fireplace tools and accessories out of reach of children.
- Always have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors located throughout your home. Test them monthly and change the batteries at least once a year.
- Always keep a fire extinguisher on hand.