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Regardless of the type of fireplace you are using at home, –whether it’s wood-burning, gas, or electric– it can pose a potential danger for you and your loved ones if its safety is not ensured.
To make sure your fireplace is safe to use this fall season, here are safety tips you must follow:
Always have a fire extinguisher available.
In any home, a fire extinguisher is a must-have. In fact, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), every home must have a multi-purpose extinguisher that is large enough to extinguish a small fire, but not so heavy as it can be difficult to carry. More so, a fire extinguisher also needs to carry a label of an independent testing laboratory so it can be deemed safe.
For your safety, always remember to place a fire extinguisher near your fireplace, so it’s handy.
Clear the fireplace area of anything flammable.
Never place anything potentially flammable near your fireplace. Make sure your fireplace area is away from furniture, curtains and drapes, books, newspapers, ornaments, mantels, hanging decorations, garlands, and the like. Items like these, when positioned too close to the fireplace, can catch fire. So, keep these items away from your fireplace before starting or lighting a fire.
It’s also recommended to clean out ashes from previous fires to ensure enough air supply to logs.
Have your fireplace cleaned and inspected.
Subject your fireplace to an annual professional inspection. A fireplace that isn’t properly installed, operated, or maintained pose as a potential source of a house fire. To prevent this, your fireplace has to be inspected and cleaned regularly. Fireplace professionals have exquisite knowledge and experience to spot all potential dangers and problems in a fireplace upon inspection.
What you can do yourself is to check whether your chimney has animal nests or other blockages.
Install carbon monoxide and smoke detectors.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is often found in fume produced by burning fuel in vehicles, small engines, stoves, lanterns, furnaces, grills, and fireplaces. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCC), each year, more than 400 Americans die of carbon monoxide poisoning at home. To avoid CO poisoning, each home must install carbon monoxide detectors.
Aside from carbon monoxide detectors, enough smoke detectors must also be installed at home.
Only use seasoned or hardwoods for burning.
Burning charcoal indoors is a no-no because they give off too much carbon monoxide. Likewise, wet or green wood also produces more smoke and soot buildup. For safer and more effective wood-burning, only use seasoned or hardwoods. Seasoned wood burns better and produces less soot and creosote. Hardwoods like oak, ash, and maple are more effective in giving off heat.
You can also view Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA)’s firewood selection guidelines.
Open a damper or flue before starting a fire.
Before lighting or starting a fire in your fireplace, make sure the fireplace damper or flue is open and is kept that way until the fire is put out and completely extinguished. It is important to keep the damper or flue open when the fireplace is in use to properly draw out the smoke out of the house. Make sure everyone in the house knows how to operate the fireplace damper.
To make sure enough oxygen is provided for the fire to burn better, open your windows as well.
Keep fireplace tools out of your child’s reach.
Minimize or eliminate fire-related accidents at home by keeping fireplace tools and accessories out of your children’s reach. More than that, never leave them alone while the fireplace is still burning or is still hot. Keep an eye on both your fireplace and your children to prevent accidents. Installing a fireplace safety screen or gate is also recommended if you have kids at home.
To protect your children (and your pets as well), installing a hearth padding is also recommended.
There’s more time and confidence to enjoy spending time indoors during the fall season when you know your fireplace is safe. Follow the above fireplace safety tips for a cozier, safer fall season!