Fireplace Safety: The Basics

Fireplaces seem simple enough to handle, right? As we move closer and closer into the winter months, we’re more than ready to throw in a log, light a match, and begin stoking that toasty fire. Even though usage is relatively simple, every type of fireplace, whether wood-burning, gas, or electric, poses a potential danger to everyone in your home if used incorrectly. Listed below are the most helpful suggestions for keeping you, your family, and your space safe.

 

  1. Open Things Up – Be sure your damper is open before lighting any fire. Having it open prevents smoke from building up in the house. You can check by looking up into the chimney using a flashlight or mirror. Be sure then to not close the damper until embers have completely gone out.
  2. Use the Good Stuff – You’ll want to use dry and well-aged wood. Wet or green wood can cause more smoke and contribute to soot buildup.
  3. Keep It Clean – As you use your fireplace, make sure to clean out ashes so that they don’t build above 1 inch. Too much ash will prevent air from reaching the wood which can then cause more smoke. Once every other year, it is also recommended that you have an expert come in to clean out the inside of your chimney to prevent buildup and chimney fires.
  4. Keep It Clear – Watch out for small items, rugs, drapes and debris around the fireplace. If wood “pops” and the spark lands on any of these items, they can quickly catch fire.
  5. Stay Put – This seems straightforward but when ignored can cause problems: always have someone in the room when a fire is burning. Fires can spread quickly and it’s important to have eyes on it at all times.
  6. Use Protection – Help minimize chances of burns and logs rolling out by installing or placing a safety screen in front of the fireplace. Aspen has many options to choose from and would be happy to install safe (and fashionable) solutions.
  7. Use Your Tools – Some basics to keep on hand at all times include smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, fire extinguishers, and fire irons. Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are a requirement in all houses today but it’s important you test them once a month and change the batteries at least once a year. Fire extinguishers are handy for a number of reasons but be certain to review the expiration date and replace when necessary. A fire iron and/or log tongs are used for moving logs and tending a fire safely without being burned. These are smart to keep next to the fire in case you do need to move wood safely.
  8. Communication is Key – Last but not least is communication with all individuals in your household. Make sure they know the danger that fire can cause and where to locate detectors and extinguishers.