Stay Warm and Cozy with These Important Fireplace Safety Tips
The sun is going down earlier and there is a crisp snap in the air. Oh, it’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas. What a great night to curl up on the sofa with a good book and a cup of hot chocolate in front of the warm fireplace. But before the flames in the fireplace begin to crackle, we encourage you to follow these important fireplace safety tips as a reminder to stay warm, cozy and safe all winter long.
Scheduling an annual inspection of your chimney and fireplace is a good idea. That black oily build-up in your chimney is called creosote. This combustible by-product can cause a chimney fire. In fact, more than 30 percent of all house fires started in the chimney, according to the National Fire Protection Association of America. You can hire certified chimney specialists to examine and clean your chimney annually to keep your home and family safe. If you are designing a new fireplace you will want to choose fire resistant materials like concrete and stone to decorate walls and other surrounding areas.
Never leave a burning fireplace unattended. In 2013, the U.S. Fire Administration reported that 1.2 million residential fires resulted in over 3,200 deaths and caused more than $11B in property damage. Many house fires are a result of unattended kitchen appliances and fireplaces. This is a stark reminder that a fire can go out of control very quickly so be sure to completely extinguish the fire in your fireplace before going to bed or leaving the house. Yes, this includes turning off gas fireplaces too.
Install carbon monoxide and smoke detectors on every floor in your home. Carbon monoxide is a deadly, colorless, odorless gas resulting from the burning of natural gas and incendiary materials containing carbon like wood, coal and oil. Place carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors outside bedrooms, in hallways, in the kitchen and near any room with a fireplace. You should test these detectors regularly, and change all of the batteries every 12 months. These alarms are often your first line of defense to alert you of a fire or smoke in your home while your family is sleeping.
Install a chimney cap with wire mesh screen to help prevent sparks from exiting your chimney. It will also help reduce the creosote build-up in the chimney. Also, keep your roof clear of all debris and check it regularly for smoke damage. Be sure your damper is in working order too. Make sure tree branches are away from your roof and chimney. Low hanging branches obstructing your chimney and vents can cause unnecessary risk. So be sure to trim any tree branches near your chimney to help minimize fire hazards. Finally, keep the hearth clear of any flammable knick-knacks or other potential fire hazards. Adding a decorative spark screen or keeping glass doors closed can help contain burning embers from being blown into your room where they could be hazardous.