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.

Here's how to keep the home fires burning - safely.

  1. Become a Soot-Stopper

Minimize the buildup of soot and creosote by using seasoned hardwood or manufactured logs.

To minimize the buildup of soot and creosote (which can cause chimney fires), use seasoned hard wood or manufactured logs, which burn even cleaner than real wood.

  2. Know About Hot Stuff

If you do use manufactured logs, be sure to follow the directions on the bag.

These logs burn hotter than regular wood and can potentially warp metal chimneys if you burn more than one at a time.

  3.  Burn Only Simple Stuff

Only burn wood or manufactured logs in your fireplace. Fancy finishes - like glossy wrapping paper, shiny bows and foam peanuts - release toxic fumes.

And never burn holiday greenery in the fireplace. It releases nasty stuff you don't want your family to breathe, too. 

  4.  Go for a Slow Burn

Though a roaring fire looks attractive, it's not as safe as a slower, steadier burn. Too-hot a fire can crack your chimney. Just a couple of logs at a time, please.

  5.  Practice Safe Stacking

Position logs near the back of the fireplace to prevent fire and ashes from finding a way out of the hearth and into your home.

  6.  Open the Damper Before You Light Your Fire

Open the damper before starting a fire in the fireplace. 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.

Those glass doors are meant to keep drafts out when you're not using the fireplace, and can shatter if exposed to high heat (such as a roaring fire generates.)

  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. This rule is essential for a safe home fireplace.

  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.  Clear the Deck Before You Light Up

If you drape your fireplace mantel with holiday 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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