Now that winter is in full swing, you should be ensuring you and your family are following the best safety practices when using the fireplace. Statistics show the dangers of ignoring fireplace safety recommendations. In 2014, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that US fire departments responded to 367,500 residential fires, which resulted in 2,745 deaths, 11.825 injuries, and $6.8 billion in property damage. One of the reasons the NFPA cited for these fires is failure to follow fireplace safety precautions. At American Chimney & Masonry, one of our top priorities is educating our customers about how to enjoy safe and warm fires, so we would like to share a few of the most important safety tips to remember when using the fireplace.
Double check the damper.
Before lighting a fire, you want to make sure the damper is completely open. This will help keep smoke going quickly out of the chimney as it should. When the damper is partially closed, you can have exhaust problems. To avoid the risk of carbon monoxide leaks, keep the damper open until the embers are totally out.
Only burn seasoned firewood.
You should make sure that your firewood has been allowed to dry for at least six months after being cut so that it is properly seasoned. This type of wood will give you longer lasting and clean burning fires. When you burn wet wood, more creosote is produced and builds up inside your chimney to become a fire hazard.
Keep the hearth area clear.
Make sure furniture, curtains, carpet, and any other combustible items are at least six feet away from your fireplace. To keep children and pets away from this area, you can set up a fireplace screen, which will also keep hot sparks and embers from jumping out of the fire to start an accidental fire.
Never leave a fire unattended.
Children and pets should always be supervised around a burning fire. If you must leave the room before the fire has been extinguished, you will need to bring any kids or pets with you. You should also be sure the fire is completely out before you leave your home or go to bed for the night.
Schedule an annual professional chimney sweeping and inspection.
This maintenance service is recommended by the NFPA, the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), and other national fire safety organizations because professional chimney sweeps will remove all fire hazards and ensure your fireplace will be safe to use.
Enjoy warm and safe fires all winter long around your fireplace. Contact American Chimney & Masonry for all of your chimney maintenance, repair, and installation needs.