As the snow starts to fall more frequently and the temperature continues to drop, staying warm is a top priority. Fireplaces are a great way to heat your home and feel cozy during the holidays, but there are some things you should keep in mind when using them. Here are a few safety reminders for this winter.
Use a screen or glass enclosure. Making sure the fire is contained is very important to your safety. This will not only keep the fire in place, but also any embers, sparks, or rolling logs that could come your way.
Use the damper properly. Making sure you open your damper before starting a fire and keeping it open until after all of the ashes are cool will help keep carbon monoxide and other poisonous gasses out of your home.
Keep a good distance from the fire. Staying at least a foot away from the fire and making sure no one else is too close will help prevent anyone from accidentally touching any hot handles, doors, or screens that could burn you.
Burn only wood and paper. Wood, twigs, and paper are really the only things you need to have a successful fireplace fire. DO NOT burn any plastic or other materials that could release toxic gases into your home, and DO NOT use any lighter fluid or other fuel to start the fire. Potentially explosive vapors could be released into your home if you do so.
Clean and inspect the chimney regularly. Cleaning your chimney will help you be sure that there is no left over debris that could start a fire. It is recommended to get your chimney inspected at least once a heating season. This will allow your chimney to get a good cleaning and be cleared of any cracks or other safety issues that need addressing.
Be weary of a potential fire. The Chimney Safety Institute of America warns that loud cracking and popping noises, a lot of dense smoke, and an intense, hot smell can all be indicators of a chimney fire. Be aware of these to stay safe!
Put the fire out. This may seem obvious, but it is always important to remember to put the fire out before you go to bed. Leaving a fire unattended could result in poisonous gasses or a larger fire spreading throughout the house. Also remember to use fireplace tools instead of your hands to handle any burning materials.