12 fireplace safety tips

'Tis the season to light up the fireplace.

Curling up in front of a warm fireplace is one of the joys of the fall and winter season. But before you light that fire, there are a few important safety tips to keep in mind.

Every type of fireplace, whether wood-burning, gas, or electric, poses a potential danger to everyone in your home.

These 12 fireplace safety tips can help ensure your family can safely enjoy the crackling warmth.

  1  aim to minimize the buildup of soot and creosote.

Minimize the buildup of soot and creosote (which can cause chimney fires) by using seasoned hardwood or manufactured fireplace logs such as Duraflame, which burn even cleaner than real wood.

  2  understand that manufactured logs burn hotter than wood.

Manufactured logs also burn hotter than regular wood, and can potentially warp a metal chimney if you burn more than one log at a time. Be sure to follow the directions on the bag for lighting and use.

  3  burn only wood or manufactured logs in the fireplace.

Only burn wood or manufactured logs in your fireplace, as some items - including wrapping paper and foam peanuts - release toxic fumes. And never burn Christmas greenery in the fireplace.

  4  beware the roaring fire.

Though a roaring fire in the fireplace looks attractive, it's really not as safe as a more controlled burn. Just a couple of logs at a time, please. A too-hot fire can crack your chimney - necessitating an expensive chimney repair. 

  5  stack fireplace logs near the back of the hearth.

Ensure fireplace logs - whether wood or manufactured - are stacked as far as possible to the back of the fireplace. This will help ensure sparks and embers don't spark out of the fireplace and into your carpet.

  6  open the damper before you light your fire.

Open the damper before you light a fire in your fireplace, and keep the damper open until the fire is completely extinguished.

  7  open fireplace doors.

Open the fireplace doors (if your fireplace has them), and use a fireplace safety screen when you've got the fire crackling.

  8  keep the area around the fireplace clear.

Don't position your Christmas tree - or anything else - near the fireplace. Should embers spark out of the fireplace and into the room, you want to make sure there is nothing nearby that will catch fire. 

  9  don't leave a fire unattended.

For safety's sake, never leave a fire unattended. And yes, this means you shouldn't go to sleep with a fire blazing away.

  10  open a window when you light a fire.

Fires require about five times as much oxygen as a room usually needs. To make sure there's enough oxygen for the fire to burn efficiently, open a window when you light a fire.

  11  keep the fireplace mantel clear of hanging decorations.

If you drape your fireplace mantel with garlands or hang stockings or cards from it, don't light a fire. These flammable items are too close for comfort.

  12  keep a fire extinguisher handy.

Stash a fire extinguisher near the fireplace so that it's handy - just in case.

› 12 Fireplace Safety Tips


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