Many homeowners choose fireplaces and wood burning stoves for their beauty, efficiency and savings on utility bills. While useful for heating large and small rooms and reducing heating bills, safety precautions should be taken to protect the home and its inhabitants from burns and fire damage. From installation to usage, maintaining a fireplace or a wood burning stove relies on organization and planning, with a touch of common sense. These 15 safety tips will help homeowners enjoy the warmth of a cozy fire without the worry of damage to their home.
1. Install Smoke Detectors
Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in the same room as the fireplace or wood stove, as well as in bedrooms and hallways.
2. Keep Fire Extinguishers Handy
Keep a fire extinguisher in a central location in the home. Teach all residents how to use it, and inspect the extinguisher at least once a year for operability.
3. Keep Surrounding Areas Clear of Debris
Don’t store anything near the fireplace or wood stove and check the flue vents often for creosote buildup.
4. Supervise Children
Children are fascinated by fire. Place protective fences near the stove or fireplace, and supervise children to keep them and their toys away from the fire.
5. Check Other Venting Appliances
Down draft exhaust fans can diminish the proper venting of fireplaces and wood stoves. Make sure to test other venting appliances during installation to address any potential problems.
6. Clean the Ash Pan
Frequently check and clean the ash pan, placing care to watch for burning embers that may have fallen and still be burning. Dispose of ash properly when cooled.
7. Sweep the Hearth
Sweep the hearth to remove ashes, buildup and any debris that has fallen around the fireplace or wood stove. Just like ash from ash pans, dispose of properly.
8. Check the Perimeter
During installation of wood stoves, check that the proper space allowance is maintained around the entire stove. Non-combustible materials like stone or cement are good ideas for the floor underneath and the walls around the stove.
9. Check Chimney Clearance
For both fireplaces and wood stoves, check that the chimney clearance is correct in order to prevent unwanted damage.
10. Never Use Flammable Liquids to Start a Fire
When starting a fire, use approved fire starters or crumpled paper instead of flammable liquids. The fumes from liquids will remain in the stove and explode when ignited, creating a dangerous situation.
11. Open the Flue
Before starting the fire, make sure the flue is open and clear of debris.
12. Use Dry Wood
For the best and safest fires, burn only dry, well-seasoned wood in fireplaces and wood stoves. These logs will burn cleaner and longer, producing more heat.
13. Never Leave a Fire Unattended
Even when using a wood stove or fireplace for heat, leaving the fire unattended can lead to loss of property and lives. When leaving the house, ensure that the fire is completely out before leaving.
14. Have an Escape Plan
Fire spreads quickly. In the event that fire does escape the stove or fireplace, have a plan in place for all household members to exit the home.
15. Heat, Don’t Eat
Use the fireplace for heat only; don’t consider it an alternative for grilling or heating food.