Home Safety Tips for Fireplaces and Wood Stoves
It’s the time of year when nothing feels better than cozying up in the warm indoors. As everyone bundles up to brave the rest of the winter months ahead, we want to take this opportunity to remind you all of a few key safety tips when heating your home with a fireplace or wood stove. Here’s what you need to keep in mind:
MAINTENANCE, MAINTENANCE, MAINTENANCE!
The best way to prevent an incident is to ensure proper maintenance of your stove or fireplace and especially your chimney. The most common cause of chimney fires is ash or creosote buildup. Get in the habit of having your chimney checked once a year and have it cleaned by a professional after approximately every 80 fires.
Test all the smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms in your home once a month and replace your batteries every six months.
FEED YOUR FIRE THE RIGHT FUEL
Always use proper fuel in your wood burning stove or fireplace. Hardwoods such as maple, beech, ash, hickory or oak are best. Seasoned wood burns cleaner, heats more efficiently and produces less smoke and creosote.
WATCH YOUR ASHES
Ashes in your fireplace or wood stove can stay flammable for up to three days after the fire has gone out, so be sure to wait at least that long before removing them. When you are ready to clean out your stove or fireplace, use a metal, fire-proof shovel and bucket to remove the ashes, and always store ashes far away from anything flammable. Never use a vacumm to clean. Leave roughly one inch of ashes for your next fire because it will serve as insulation, helping to heat coals faster and retain heat better.
USE THE RIGHT TOOLS
Make sure you have metal and non-flammable tools for building, stoking and adding wood to your fire. And it’s always a good idea to wear protective gloves while using your wood stove or fireplace to keep your hands safe from any burns. Using a fire screen or always securing your stove door will prevent sparks from flying out of your fire—at the very least you’ll save your hardwoods from scorch marks and at most you avoid your living room catching fire. Fire-proof mats can safely cover the area in front of your fire. Installing a chimney cap will prevent debris from falling in and getting lodged in your chimney. It will also keep critters from building their homes there during the warmer months. Both can cause blockages if not prevented and leave you with smoke backing up inside your home or cause a chimney fire.
While there’s nothing quite like warming up by the fire in your home, always remember that fire is a force of nature. It can be unpredictable and dangerous, so never leave a fire unattended in your home. Always make sure you take every precaution to protect yourself, your family and your home, and you’ll enjoy a cozy winter.