With the seasons changing and cold weather approaching, it is almost time to light the first fire of the season. As excited as we may be to warm up around a cozy fire, there are some important things to keep in mind to ensure fireplace safety at home.
Regular Maintenance Promotes Fireplace Safety
Before you build a fire, have your entire fireplace inspected by a professional. This should be done annually. Professional inspectors often find things we may overlook. They have the experience and knowledge that make an inspection well worth the cost.
Check your fireplace and chimney for cracks and gaps of any kind. Install a screen in front of the firebox to prevent runaway sparks, but make sure it allows for sufficient airflow up the chimney. Make sure the damper opens and closes completely and check the chimney cap to verify it is intact. If there are branches that are overhanging the roof or close to the chimney, trim them as they can be a fire hazard.
Keep a fire extinguisher in the room in case of emergencies. Test the fire alarms throughout the house so you know that they will sound if a fire spreads in your home.
Use Your Fireplace Safely
Other than regular maintenance, there are things you can do to keep your fire burning safely. Install a fire-resistant rug at the base of the fireplace to protect runaway sparks from causing damage to your flooring. Keep furniture, curtains, and other flammable materials at a safe distance from the flames.
To keep yourself safe, use the fireplace tools to maintain the fire. Sturdy leather gloves and a fireplace poker are convenient to have on hand when the fire is burning.
Ashes and coals can stay hot for hours after the fire has gone out. It’s important to remove ashes from the firebox but only do so after they have cooled completely. Never use your vacuum as it may pick up small pieces of hot coal that can damage it.
Safety for Children Around the Fireplace
Never leave a fire unattended. This is particularly important if there are young children and/or pets around. Teach children that it is not safe to play near the fireplace and keep them away from the hearth. Have an adult present to supervise the fire and completely extinguish the flames if you are leaving the home or going to bed for the evening.