A traditional wood-burning fireplace creates warmth and a relaxing ambiance that simply cannot be duplicated. If you’re skeptical about using your fireplace, or if you’ve just moved into a home with your very first fireplace, it’s important to understand how to use it safely. Below, you’ll discover five safety tips that will keep you from burning down your house with your wood fireplace.
#1 – Keep Your Chimney Clean
Dirty chimneys are the number one cause of chimney fires in the United States, but the good news is that these fires are easily preventable. Annual chimney cleanings are crucial, even if you barely use your fireplace during that year. You should have it cleaned more often if you light more than 36 fires a year, too. Keeping your chimney clean reduces the risk of fire substantially and can help you better enjoy your fireplace with each and every fire.
#2 – Don’t Leave Fires Unattended
Though it seems like common sense, many homeowners do not realize the importance of keeping an eye on their fires. Any number of things could happen, and if you aren’t carefully watching, your entire home could go up in flames. Do not light a fire if you need to leave your home, and if something comes up, be sure you put the fire out completely before you leave.
#3 – Install and Use Safety Equipment
If you will use a fireplace in your home, make sure that every single level has at least one working smoke detector, one working carbon monoxide detector, and a fire extinguisher. Test your extinguishers every year and make sure you know how to use it; be sure that you check the batteries in your smoke detectors regularly, too. Catching a fire early is the key to putting it out with as little damage as possible.
#4 – Don’t Burn Anything but Seasoned Wood
Though it may seem easy to toss a piece of paper in the fireplace rather than in the garbage or recycling bin, this is actually a dangerous practice and one that you should avoid. Embers can easily float away from a piece of paper and ignite a fire. You should never burn anything in your fireplace other than seasoned wood. The only exception to this rule occurs when you are lighting your fire with approved tinder like crumpled newspapers.
#5 – Keep Small Children and Pets Away from Fires
Small children and pets can be quick, so to prevent housefires and injuries, keep them away from your fireplace at all times. Teaching children about fire safety is important, but so is protecting them with physical barriers. You can use fireplace gates that fit around the hearth and prevent anyone from drawing too near; these are highly effective, easy to install, and usually affordable, as well.
A wood fireplace can be a safe, effective, and efficient way to supplement your furnace in the winter, and many families simply enjoy resting around the warmth and comfort of a crackling fire in the winter. Preventing fires from spreading is easy if you follow the tips above, too.