When you have a fireplace, you have a cozy home with an ideal spot to gather on cold winter nights. But you also have an increased risk of fire. Even though that fact is scary, it’s no reason to avoid using your fireplace or even adding a fireplace or wood stove to your home. Just be prepared with some fire safety tips that all homeowners should know. Many may seem simple but often it’s the small things in life that most easily overlooked.
Have a Regular Inspection
Whether you have a wood burning fireplace, a wood stove, or even a gas fireplace, you’re going to need to indulge in some routine maintenance. A professional should look at your ventilation, your actual fireplace for cracks, and clean and inspect your chimney. Many homeowners simply ignore the fact that maintenance is necessary, especially with gas fireplaces that they assume burn much cleaner than a traditional wood fireplace. Corrosive gas fireplace byproducts can build up in your chimney, causing damage that could lead to fire – so get your inspection no matter what.
Never Burn Items in Your Fireplace
It can be tempting to get rid of cardboard and unwanted trash or even junk wood in your fireplace – but this can cause toxic fumes to be released, and carry sparks into other parts of your living room if you don’t have a safety glass. A wood stove is very particular about fuel, so burning anything other than the prescribed wood or pellets could cause damage and decrease safety.
Don’t Leave Fires (or Children and Pets) Unattended
How quickly things can get out of hand when we aren’t paying attention. Even if you’ve done your best to fireproof your wood stove or fireplace, it only takes a little mistake – like a curious child or pet – to create a dangerous situation. Not only can your loved ones be harmed by the fire, they can also spread the flames outside of the firebox and into your home. Consider teaching children about fire safety and hiding any flammable items like matches or barbecue lighters, as these can also cause house fires even without a roaring fireplace.
Make Sure You Have Operational Smoke Alarms
Test your smoke alarms often – if they don’t work replace the batteries. Many people test their alarms twice a year, but more frequent testing can help to prevent any type of fire. Don’t wait for your alarm to start beeping every few minutes with a dying battery. Go through your home and test the fire alarms once a month, replacing the batteries whenever necessary. Make it a routine so you are used to completing this safety measure.
Keep Flammable Items Away From Heat Sources
Homeowners love to pile on the mantel decorations, and snuggle close to the fire. But be cautious about how close you are putting flammable items near your roaring fire. Keep your firewood at a safe distance, and pay attention to anything that might catch fire if knocked too close to the flames. If you want to warm up your body close to the fire, make sure you are still at a safe distance so that no clothing or blankets can catch.