As temperatures outside begin to dip, there’s nothing quite like curling up in front of a roaring fire to stay warm. But as cozy as a wood-burning fireplace can make your home feel, it’s essential to take the necessary precautions to prevent fires. According to the National Fire Protection Association, heating equipment is responsible for an estimated $10 billion in damages each year. Follow these tips to keep your fireplace safe this winter.
The Best Way to Keep Your Fireplace Safe is to Clean It
Prepare your fireplace for use by having it inspected and cleaned before using it this season. Hire a professional to examine the fireplace and chimney, looking for cracks, damaged bricks, or debris in the flue. A chimney sweep can quickly and easily clean the chimney to remove leaves, twigs, and animal nests that might catch fire.
Fueling Your Fireplace
It’s important to be careful when building a fire, as certain items are unsafe to use as fuel.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, you should never burn garbage, paper products, or green vegetation in your fireplace. These materials may produce toxic fumes as they burn and are highly flammable. Materials may ignite and float up the flue, leading to a fire in the chimney or on the roof.
It’s best to use well-seasoned hardwoods like oak, hickory, and maple in your fireplace. Avoid burning softwoods, including pine, spruce, and fir, as they have a higher moisture content and contribute to creosote build-up in the flue.
Declutter Around the Hearth to Keep Your Fireplace Safe
A fireplace is a beautiful addition to any home, but taking the necessary precautions to prevent fires is important. One of the most important things to remember is to keep the space around the hearth clear. Before building a fire, declutter the area to remove flammable materials. Move furniture, draperies, and rugs at least five feet away from the firebox for safety.
Don’t Leave a Fire Unattended
To keep your family and home safe, have an adult present anytime there is a fire. Don’t leave the flames unattended, and make sure they’re fully extinguished before going to bed or leaving the house.
Following these simple tips, you can enjoy the fireplace all winter long without risking your home or family. Have your chimney inspected annually and clean it regularly to prevent a build-up of creosote, which can ignite. Always exercise caution around any open flame in your home; even a tiny spark can lead to a house fire.