Most people like fireplaces because of the special ambiance they bring to the home. They are warm and inviting. They may also be dangerous. They can be all that you want them to be if you take some simple precautions and use your fireplace safely. Most of the injuries that occur are to children under the age of five and associated with this is the thousands of fires that are started with fireplaces.
Most of these fires associated with the fireplace are because of an overloaded fire, damage to the fireplace such as missing bricks, obstructed or cracked flues, ignition of nearby materials, and flying sparks or embers.
Follow these fireplace safety tips:
- If you are installing a factory-made fireplace, it should not be located near any combustible materials. It should also have adequate flame and heat barriers. Follow the manufactures instructions and check with local building codes.
Do the following Inspections:
- Inspect the fireplace and smoke ducts.
- Make sure it has adequate protective linings
- Check to see that the chimney is clear and in good repair
- To reduce the risk of fire and carbon monoxide poisonings due to obstructions or to creosote, have chimneys inspected annually and cleaned as necessary by a certified Chimney Sweep
- Keep the top of chimneys clear of tree limbs or debris. Remember that birds or animals make a nest in the chimney, this can cause a problem. The installing of a chimney cap will help to keep it clear.
- Use well seasoned wood that has been dried and stored properly.
- Do not overload the fireplace. Large fires can lead to overheating of wall or roof materials, particularly if the fireplace is constructed of metal. Be sure to place firewood or fire logs towards the rear and always use a supporting grate.
- Do not use gas, lighter fluid or charcoal lighter to light your fire. Keep these combustibles away from a fire to prevent an explosion hazard. Vapors can travel long distances and ignite.
- Use matches or a firelighter to start your fire
- Keep the damper open when lighting the fire and then after the fire to prevent the build up of toxic gases
- Your fireplace for burning wood is not built for coal or charcoal. There is danger of carbon monoxide in these. Your fireplace is also not designed for burning trash or paper products. Some of these products can produce deadly gas or produce sparks or embers that can cause fires both inside and outside the home.
- Your fireplace is designed to burn real wood. Artificial logs can be a problem
- Use a single log at a time and let it burn down before adding another.
- Remember do not overload your fireplace. More wood means more fire and excess heat may cause problems in the chimney or the flue.
- Home rolled newspaper logs should never been soaked in flammable fuels of any kind because of the severe danger of explosion. Soaking the newspaper in water either before rolling or during rolling removes the clay content and will provide a better burning log. Then, stack the logs on end and let them dry for two weeks in the basement. When lighting the newspaper logs, use kindling just as you would for a regular fire.
- Always use a screen around the fireplace to keep sparks from flying out and to protect children and adults from accidental clothing ignition.
- Warn children about the danger of fire. Do not let them play with fire.
- Keep flammable materials such as carpets, pillows, furniture or papers away from the fireplace area.
- At holiday time, make sure the Christmas tree is not close enough to be ignited by a spark. Be especially careful of accidentally igniting holiday wrapping papers.
- Always make sure that the fire is completely extinguished before going to bed for the night or when leaving the house.