There’s nothing better than lighting the fireplace, getting some hot chocolate, and curling up on the couch to read a book or watch your favorite show during the winter.
But it’s important to make sure you are using the fireplace safely. It’s always important to protect yourself and your home from hazards, especially when it comes to burning things. Below are some general guidelines to follow, according to fireplace safety experts.
1. Open a window. Assuming you have proper ventilation in your chimney, it’s still a good idea to crack open a window to prevent smoke from filling the room. Don’t worry, that doesn’t mean you will have to sit with the cold air—if the fireplace is working properly, it will be sucked up through the chimney.
2. Proper fireplace ventilation. Make sure the damper or flue have been opened BEFORE starting the fire and keep it that way until the fire has been completely extinguished.
3. Chimney sweepers. Have a chimney sweeper inspect your fireplace once a year or once every 80 fires.
4. Use the right wood. Make sure you are burning dry wood. Logs with too much moisture lead to more smoke and a buildup of soot in the chimney.
5. Clean out the ashes regularly. Keep the level of ashes to one or less. Thicker ashes block air from reaching the logs, causing more smoke. But wait for three days before cleaning out old ashes. Before that time, coals are hot enough to ignite another blaze. Follow other basic safety protocols: close the damper to prevent air from blowing dust and wear a dust mask. Also use a shovel, not a vacuum cleaner, to remove the ashes.
6. Keep the area around the fireplace clear. Remove flammable materials and objects like furniture, drapes, and newspapers. Consider buying a nonflammable rug in front of the fireplace.
7. Have a fire extinguisher. Hopefully all the above tips ensure everything goes to plan, it’s still best to be prepared in case something goes wrong. Sources: healthychildren.org, HGTV, and Direct Energy.