With Christmas right around the corner, one of the greatest joys of the holiday season is sitting around a warm and toasty wood burning fireplace with family and friends drinking hot cocoa and warm apple cider. According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) winter is also the time of year that accidents happen as a direct result of wood burning stoves and fireplaces that are improperly maintained. Failing to properly take care of your wood burning fireplace can result in chimney fires and carbon monoxide poisoning which may have fatal consequences for some home owners this holiday season.
How to Safely Use a Wood Burning Fireplace
– Annual Chimney Inspection. First thing on your list should be an annual chimney inspection performed by a certified chimney service professional to make sure the various components within your fireplace are working correctly. A regular inspection and cleaning will also make sure that any blockages are removed along with any build up or creosote. Getting your fireplace cleaned once a year will keep you and your family safe from harm by dramatically reducing the risk of fire and carbon monoxide poisoning.
– Keep Leaves & Animals Out of Chimney. Keep trees and tree limbs roughly 15 feet away from the top of your chimney and be sure to install a chimney cap if you don’t already have one to keep leaves and animals out.
– Well Seasoned Firewood. It is imperative that you select the correct fuel for wood stoves and fireplaces. Select well-seasoned wood that has been split and stored in a covered location. Never burn treated wood or Christmas trees which can overpower you with fumes. The correct way to build a fire is to place the firewood towards the back of the fireplace on the support grate before lighting it.
– Keep Area Free of Clutter. It is very important to keep the entire area free of clutter; any combustible materials that are placed close to the fireplace can easily catch fire. Furniture should be kept a minimum of 36 inches away from your heath.
– Other Fireplace Safety Tips. Always use a fireplace screen when burning a fire to catch sparks and protect smaller children. Install smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors throughout your home for added protection. Never leave your wood store or fireplace unattended and always make sure that the fire is completely extinguished before retiring to bed in the evening.
Wood Burning Fireplace Safety Tips
• Your fireplace should be used for short periods of time, five hours of less
• If you have glass doors, keep them open to allow air to cool the chimney
• Keep the screen closed to prevent any sparks from shooting out into the air
• Purchase a nonflammable rug from your local fireplace supply or hardware store and place it in front of the fireplace to prevent sparks from melting and damaging your soft furnishings and carpets.
• Never allow children to play with tools or equipment used in or around the fireplace
• Crack a window open to prevent the area from becoming smoky