When you own and use a fireplace regularly, you should always think fire prevention and safety! The last thing that you want to have happen is for a fire to start in your home because your fireplace was not cleaned and maintained properly.
Here are some basic guidelines to protect your home from a chimney fire:
- Have your fireplace inspected annually and cleaned when necessary by a professional chimney sweep. A dirty fireplace can cause chimney fires and inhibit proper venting of smoke up the flue.Clear the area around the fireplace hearth. This is the area directly in front of the
fireplace. Debris too close to the fireplace could cause a fire.
- Check the flue for obstructions – both outside and inside of the chimney. Trim
over hanging branches or large trees near the chimney if needed.
- Keep Christmas stockings and holiday decorations away from the firebox when the
fireplace is in use.
- Always use a fireplace screen such as a metal, mesh fireplace screen. If you use glass doors
leave them open while burning a fire, unless fireplace manufacturers’ instructions indicate
- Never overload the fireplace with too many logs. Don’t use the fireplace as an incinerator,
and never burn garbage, Christmas trees, or glossy magazine paper in your fireplace. In a
fireplace you want to keep the top of the flames visible below the fireplace opening. In a
woodstove, keep the flames confined to the woodstove itself.
- Keep a fire extinguisher on hand and place smoke detectors throughout your house. Test the
smoke detectors and batteries regularly. In addition, teach all family members to operate
the fire extinguisher. Consider installing a carbon monoxide detector in rooms that have a
- When building a fire, place logs at the rear of the fireplace, on an adequate supporting grate.
9. Never leave a fire unattended. Be sure the fire is extinguished before you go to bed. And,
never leave children unsupervised near the fireplace.
- Practice the following to minimize the build-up of creosote. Creosote is very combustible and can lead to a chimney fire. Burning only seasoned woods, cleaning your chimney regularly, not burning trash, and not allowing a fire to smolder are all steps you can take to reduce creosote buildup.
Fireplaces used on brisk autumn mornings and during cold winter days produce special, lifelong memories for many families. However, just like anything else related to fire, caution has to be practiced to ensure everyone’s safety and enjoyment. Following the above safety practices will help to ensure the safe use of your fireplace.