As the days get colder and winter approaches, you may feel excited to build a fire in the fireplace. In most areas, it’s been almost a year since the fireplace was used. If this is the case, it is helpful to review tips for fireplace safety in the home.
Practice Fireplace Safety This Winter
Tips for Using the Fireplace
When you’re enjoying a warm fire, always use the fireplace tools to manage the flames. A good toolset contains the things you need to safely maintain the fire. Even if the fire has been out for a while, wood and coals can remain hot for hours.
Clean out your fireplace before building the first fire. Do not remove ash with a vacuum as this may pick up small pieces of coal that are still hot can damage the vacuum cleaner. Scoop ashes out with a fire shovel and store them in a metal bucket for several days until they are completely cool.
Install a flame-resistant rug in front of the fireplace to protect your flooring from stray sparks and embers. Keep furniture at least 5 feet away from the fireplace and use a screen to block the fire. You’ll be able to enjoy the heat, but the screen will help contain embers.
Before building a fire, check the damper to make sure it will open and close completely. This will help prevent a smoke-filled living room and keep your fire burning safely.
Never leave the fire unattended. Extinguish the flames completely before going to bed for the evening or leaving the house.
Teach children to stay away from the fireplace and always have an adult present to watch them when a fire is burning.
Keep the fires small and controlled at all times. Never overload the firebox with wood and have a fire extinguisher nearby in case the flames grow out of control.
Maintain the Fireplace for Safety
Have a professional inspect your fireplace and chimney at least once a year. Early fall is a great time to schedule this maintenance. A professional will look for issues and make repairs before you use the fireplace.
Keep an eye out for damage to the fireplace, including cracks in the mortar and/or bricks. Call a professional to make repairs as needed.
Check the chimney cap to make sure it is intact. Look for branches that overhang the roof. Trim them back so they don’t block the chimney, as this can interrupt good airflow and become a fire hazard.
Before using your fireplace for the first time, test the smoke detectors in your home. Make sure they operate as expected and replace the batteries as needed.
Following these tips will keep your family and home safer this winter. Enjoy a warm, cozy fire with peace of mind knowing that the chimney and fireplace have been inspected and are safe.