Fireplace safety becomes an issue at this time every year. A home fireplace provides warmth as well as indoor charm and ambiance. However, statistics reveal that more than 25,000 house fires every year are related to fireplace usage.
Residential fireplaces are designed and constructed to meet strict standards. However, these standards also require that residents observe basic fireplace safety procedures, including regular maintenance and proper usage. Here are some ways to stay safe while enjoying all the benefits of your fireplace this winter season:
- Schedule annual maintenance. Before you light a fire this year, ensure fireplace safety by getting professional service. Annual maintenance typically includes cleaning the chimney to remove flammable residue that could ignite and trigger a chimney fire, as well as checking for structural defects and verifying proper function of the damper and other components.
- Move flammable furniture or other objects a safe distance away from the fireplace before starting a fire.
- When selecting wood, for optimum fireplace safety, choose seasoned wood that has been properly dried for six months or more. Green wood contains high water content and may produce excess smoke and burn unevenly. Dry wood burns cleanly and predictably.
- Never burn unapproved items — such as plastics, fabrics, construction lumber, or trash — in a home fireplace. These items may burn too hot, blaze dangerously, or release toxic gases.
- Use a glass fireplace door or metal screen placed in front of the fireplace. These are effective fireplace safety measures to keep sparks and embers from escaping the fireplace and triggering a house fire. They also keep pets and children a safe distance from flames.
- Make sure you have smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors on all levels of the house. Test the units monthly and replace batteries on the manufacturer’s recommended schedule.
- After the firewood burns out, scoop smoldering ashes and embers into an approved metal ash container with a metal lid. The container should be placed outdoors on a concrete surface until the contents are cool.
For more about fireplace safety this winter, talk to the professionals at Detmer and Sons.