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Winter Fire Safety Precautions

Homeowners have started pulling out their Christmas decorations early this year, and turning on their fireplace early to enjoy a cozy fire. During the winter months, the chances of you using your fireplace are higher, and we recommend having it inspected before using it for the season. Not only is an inspection important though, but so are the safety tips mentioned below. Find out what you can do to keep your fireplace operating properly and safe.

fireplace mantel decorated for holidaysThink & be cautious about the holiday decorations – We all love to put up some holiday decorations, whether it’s stockings for Santa, or greenery and little figurines on the fireplace, it’s what gets us into the holiday spirit. However, you want to be careful with what you’re placing on the mantel. We suggest using them on the high points of the fireplace, and taking the stockings down when you’re enjoying a fire(if your fireplace isn’t tall). Placing the items higher than the fire, will ensure they’re not sitting on bricks or stones that get too hot and the sparks can reach.

You also don’t want to overdo the mantel decorations, because things could fall or become too much on the mantel to where it’s overwhelming.

Use the best firewood – We suggest looking for wood that’s dense, like oak, and avoid wood like pine that can be resinous. Choosing wood like pine and other resinous options can leave a lot of creosote in your chimney. You can learn more about the type of wood you should burn on our website.

The wood you’ll use for your fires should be stored in a high, dry place for about six months before you burn it. If you’re not sure the best way to store your firewood, we have shared some tips on our website.

Don’t overwhelm your fireplace – If your fireplace is smaller, it can emit a lot of heat and doesn’t take much to start burning at a high heat. To avoid overloading your fireplace with wood, we recommend placing the logs on the metal grate at the back of the fireplace, and use kindling to light the fire. If your fireplace is smaller, you won’t need much wood to keep the fire going. Depending on how big your fireplace is, will depend on how much wood you will burn.

Have the right fireplace accessories – Using a spark screen or guard for your fireplace is important. The guard, made of metal mesh, will keep sparks from entering the room, and keep everyone safe from the fire. A spark screen is an chimney accessory you want to keep in mind because it can prevent embers from igniting a fire, and it

If you want to be extra careful and safe, you can even install glass doors on the fireplace. They’ll improve the efficiency and safety of your fireplace, along with conserving energy. If you have doors on your fireplace, the updraft that is normally caused, can be stopped. With glass doors installed, you can prevent unwanted drafts and prevent unexplained smoke and CO alarms. Homeowners will sometimes opt to leave their glass doors open in their homes while burning a fire, it all depends on the homeowner.

Leaving the damper open – Having the damper open will allow the air to properly flow and the smoke will be able to escape the chimney. An open damper will allow the smoke and harmful gases caused by the fire to escape and provide further air from the outside to help keep the fire going.

We never recommend keeping the damper closed when you’re burning wood because it allows gases and smoke to come into the room, which is a serious safety hazard.

Disposing ashes – Cleaning the fireplace is just as important as the rest of the tips we’ve listed. But improper disposal of ashes has been linked to fires. We recommend having the ashes thoroughly cooled and placed in a lidded container for disposal. It’s also best to keep them away from anything flammable, like wood or linen, and at least 10 feet away from your home or other buildings.

Proper safety equipment – Having the proper fire safety equipment in your home is essential if you know you’re going to be burning wood frequently. A fire extinguisher is something every home should have, along with carbon monoxide and smoke detectors. These are inexpensive safety items that require battery changes and placements where they can properly detect odors and gases.

Ensure the fire is completely out – We never recommend leaving your fire unattended in your home. Of course, if you have to walk into another room for a minute, then it’s fine to leave for a short period of time. But if your fire is small, you may think it’s safe, however, it only takes one ember to start a bigger fire. Before you call it a night or leave the house, ensure the fire is completely out and the damper is closed, to prevent cold air from coming in.

The above safety tips are to help keep your family and loved ones safe this winter when burning wood and enjoying a fire. With these tips in mind, you can safely enjoy a fire on a cold winter night. For more information, or to schedule a chimney sweep, contact us today!

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