As the days get shorter and the thermometer drops, we naturally start thinking about what we are going to do to keep warm this winter. With the cost of heating oil, propane and natural gas taking a bigger bite out of the family budget, many people are thinking about using their fireplaces again. Regardless of the warmth and ambiance a fireplace provides, did you know that fireplaces and chimneys are involved in 42% of all home heating fires?
Before you light up that first log, especially if you have not used your fireplace in a while, here are some safety tips to take very seriously:
- Have your chimney and fireplace inspected by a reputable service company. They will check for cracks and missing mortar and any other structural issues that might cause problems.
- Have the chimney cleaned, especially if it has not been used in some time. Creosote buildup does not go away by itself.
- Do not build a roaring fire using large amounts of paper or any flammable liquids. Doing so could cause a chimney fire.
- Keep flammable materials off of the fireplace mantle. One stray spark can easily ignite anything nearby.
- If you use synthetic logs, be sure to follow the directions on the package.
- NEVER burn charcoal indoors, as it gives off lethal amounts of carbon monoxide.
- Keep a metal or glass screen in front of the fireplace opening to prevent sparks or embers from jumping out.
- Be sure the fire is out before turning in for the night. NEVER close the damper with hot ashes still in the fireplace, as that will allow the fire to heat up again and force carbon monoxide into the house.
Spending a little time at the beginning of the season, and using good judgment when you use your fireplace, will ultimately give you increased peace of mind that your home, family and possessions are safe.
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