Nothing says wintertime quite like a roaring fire keeping you warm, and it’s the perfect way to relax and enjoy the holiday season- a cup of something hot, Christmas music to set the mood, and maybe even a furry friend stretched out on the rug to enjoy the heat, too! Before you enjoy your fireplace this year, keep reading for some important tips to make sure you do so safely, so you can enjoy the warmth for years to come.
Did you know half of all home heating fires for the entire year are reported during the months of December, January, and February? Heating fires are also the leading cause of fire-related deaths in the US. Although these statistics can be scary, with a safe and well-maintained fireplace and chimney, there’s no reason to be concerned. It takes a little extra work to heat your home safely, but that work is well worth it.
When you heat your home, make sure you are using an appropriate heat source and taking precautions when you do use it. You should always use your central heater, a space heater, or a fireplace for warmth- never your oven or stove. If you are using a space heater or water heater, it should be professionally installed and all portable heaters should be turned off before you leave the room or go to bed. Additionally, make sure you use the right kind of fuel for heaters and keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from them.
Use the following tips to make sure that your fire is safely contained and doesn’t become a hazard. If you have any concerns, you can always schedule an inspection by a professional!
- Use seasoned hardwood or manufactured logs that burn cleanly, rather than raw wood. This will prevent the buildup of soot.
- Open the damper before starting a fire, and make sure it stays open until the fire is completely extinguished.
- Open fireplace doors and instead use a fire screen when you have an active flame. The glass doors on your fireplace are meant to keep drafts from scattering soot and ash, and are not tempered to withstand the heat of a large fire!
- Clean the firebox between fires, only scooping out ashes when they are cool and placing them in a metal container that cannot ignite.
- Make sure your home has a carbon monoxide detector- all year round, but especially during fire season.
Chimneys are another common cause of home fires, but these are easily preventable with the proper care and maintenance. You should have a chimney sweep inspect yours yearly for cracks, loose bricks, or other structural problems, and also give it a thorough cleaning. You should also keep the area around your chimney clear- just as it is unsafe to have objects too close to a fireplace, trees with overhanging branches can be a danger, and should be kept at least 15 feet away. Your chimney should also have a ‘cap’: a top with wire mesh sides that surrounds it and keeps out everything from squirrels to snow.
Although smoke and fire damage can happen at any time of the year, the rates go up in the colder months, especially during the holidays. If you have any concerns or have experienced a home fire, big or small, call the Flood Medix at 770-361-6180. Our experts will help you make a plan right away to repair the damage and get things back in order. Have a safe and happy holiday, and remember to stay warm!