Winter is nearly upon us, and it is time to start regularly using your fireplace or wood-burning stove. However, certain safety preparations and measures should be taken into consideration for the cold weather months. American Chimney & Masonry wants to share with you some important winter fire safety information concerning wood-burning stoves and fireplaces. We know the importance of educating our customers to help them prevent disasters like a house fire or a carbon monoxide leak. We would like to share with you some safety tips from The University of Nebraska-Lincoln to prevent hazardous occurrences this winter.

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Before the winter season begins, and preferably in the late summer and early fall, you should schedule a professional chimney sweeping and inspection.

Ranking as one of the most important winter fire safety tips, having your chimney swept and inspected before regular usage will help to assure that your chimney is free from hazardous and combustible creosote deposits. A natural residue from the byproducts of combustion, creosote forms during the condensation process, sticks to the interior walls of your chimney, and builds up deposits. One of the main causes of chimney fires, creosote deposits will easily ignite if the internal flue temperature reaches a high enough heat, like when you build a large fire. A pre-winter chimney inspection is equally important to check your chimney’s parts to see if any essential repairs are needed to ensure the safety of your chimney during its high usage season.

Consider installing glass fireplace doors or placing a metal screen in front of your fireplace.

Glass doors and metal screens can prevent accidental fires by containing hot sparks and embers inside your fireplace instead of jumping out into your living space and possibly causing a fire. These protective doors, screens, and grates also prevent objects from falling into the fireplace and keep small children and animals away from the fire so that they do not get burned.

Keep all flammable items away from the area that surrounds the fireplace.

You should be sure the area around the hearth is clear from furniture, curtains, and carpet. Wood-burning stoves should not be installed near flammable surfaces. You may want to consider a hearth built from non-combustible brick or linoleum. This tip is especially important to remember during the holidays when family members want to decorate the mantel with greenery, ribbons, and paper ornaments. Only place non-flammable decorations around the fireplace. You should also keep a three feet clearance space between the fireplace and your Christmas tree, holiday gifts, and other decorations to be completely safe.

Choose the right type of firewood to burn.

The most important thing to remember when you are choosing firewood is to only buy seasoned wood. Dried for at least six months, seasoned wood will burn cleaner and better than freshly-cut green wood filled with a high water content. You can choose different species of wood depending on the type of fire you desire. If you want a beautiful burning flame, select cottonwood, elm, or maple. If you want warmth, choose sturdier and thicker woods like oak and ash. Just be sure the wood has been properly seasoned.

Want to learn more fire safety tips for the winter? Contact American Chimney & Masonry to find out other ways you can prevent hazards during the coldest time of the year.