Lighting a fire in your hearth is a great way to add additional warmth and coziness to your home. Especially with the holiday season upon us, homeowners will have many more opportunities to take advantage of their fireplaces and set the tone for their celebrations. While everyone will enjoy the welcoming fire, it’s essential to take the proper precautions and maintenance when you have a live fire in your home.
The following tips can help you keep your fires safe during the holidays and year-round as well!
1) Have Your Fireplace and Chimney Professionally Inspected and Swept
If your home has a fireplace, it is recommended that a professional conduct an annual inspection on the fireplace, chimney, and vent to make sure everything is in good condition. They will likely recommend having the chimney swept to remove excess debris and buildup that could pose a fire hazard during the inspection. It’s best to get this inspection done at the end of summer when Fall begins to set in so that you can be all set to start a fire on the first cold night of the season without any worries.
Even if you only use your fireplace infrequently or only on special occasions, you will want to get a yearly inspection. You never know if animals have built up nests in your chimney, or it may be showing signs of deterioration that has developed during the offseason. Reaching out to organizations like the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) is a good start find a reputable, licensed chimney specialist in your area.
2) Check Your Smoke Detector and Carbon Monoxide Alarms
You will want to make sure your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms are working correctly, especially when having an active fire in your home. As part of your general home maintenance, you will want to test your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms at least once a year. If your detectors and alarms are battery-operated, you will want to swap out old batteries and replace them with fresh ones. If yours are hardwired, make sure to test them at this point and replace the backup battery if your model comes with that feature.
3) Keep Decorations and Other Flammable Objects Away from the Fireplace
The fireplace’s mantle is often a favorite place to decorate during the holidays for many homeowners but be sure to use caution when hanging stockings and other festive décor around your fireplace. It is recommended to keep 3 feet of free space around your fireplace, especially when it’s lit. You want to avoid an errant ember from landing on something flammable and potentially turning into an uncontrolled fire.
4) Keep Your Fireplace Covered with a Screen
Speaking of embers, ensuring a proper cover is installed on the fireplace is a great way to neutralize them when the wood pops and sparks. Not only will this keep the fire and any debris safely within the fireplace, but it will also help keep unwanted items from getting into the fire.
5) Only Burn Wood in the Fireplace
During the holidays or any other time you wish to start a fire, you should exclusively burn wood that has been seasoned for six months to a year. In general, you should avoid using any treated wood and keep other things like wrapping paper or your old Christmas tree in your fireplace. Instead, properly dispose of those items in the garbage or recycling.
6) Keep Your Fireplace Clear
Once you are finished having a fire and everything has cooled down, you will want to maintain a clean fireplace by sweeping up any ash and debris that is left over. Not only does this provide greater control for your subsequent fire but removing the ash from your home will improve your indoor air quality as well. As the ash begins to break down, the particulate matter can be inhaled and increase your risk of various illnesses and lung damage.
7) Keep a Fire Extinguisher on Hand
Every home should have at least one fire extinguisher for every floor of the house, regardless of whether you have a fireplace. If you do have a fireplace, you may want to get another fire extinguisher to keep near the fire so that it is easily and quickly accessible to use if an incident were to occur. Before lighting the fire, familiarize yourself with operating the extinguisher effectively.
By following these fire safety tips, you can enjoy the added ambiance of a fire this holiday season and lessen your chances of any issues coming up! As always, whenever you have a lit fire in your home, do not leave it unattended, and if you have any small children around, take the time to explain the basics of fire safety to them. For homeowners who consistently use their fireplace regularly, you may consider installing a residential sprinkler system in your home for an added safety precaution.