Fireplace Safety: Stay Warm, Prevent Burns - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Published on February 15, 2016

Fireplace Safety: Stay Warm, Prevent Burns

Before using your fireplace for the first time each year, get the chimney swept and inspected by a professional.

Before using your fireplace for the first time
each year, get the chimney swept and
inspected by a professional.

This fall and winter may have been unseasonably warm, but these past few weeks winter has arrived in full force. With all this bitter cold and snow, you might decide to bundle up by the fireplace to stay warm. However, have you prepared your fireplace for safe use?

Here’s what you need to do to make sure your fireplace is up to snuff when the mercury drops.

1. Get Your Chimney Cleaned and Inspected

You should get your chimney swept at the beginning of winter to remove soot and debris – these can accumulate and catch fire in the chimney if embers fly up. The chimney also should be inspected for cracks, loose bricks or missing mortar. Chimney liners should be checked for any cracking or deterioration.

2. Have a Chimney Cap Installed or Repaired

Chimney caps prevent rain, birds, squirrels, snow and debris from falling into your chimney. They can also reduce downdrafts.

3. Keep a Glass or Metal Screen In Front Of It

These prevent embers or sparks from jumping out of the fireplace opening, unwanted material from going in and prevent the possibility of burns.

4. Don’t Use Accelerants

You shouldn’t use any flammable liquids or accelerants to start or keep any fire going inside your home.

5. Don’t Use Excessive Amounts of Paper to Build a Fire

Doing this to build a roaring fire in your fireplace can possibly ignite creosote in the chimney by overbuilding the fire. Creosote is a black, tar-like buildup that forms from wood gases.

6. Don’t Burn Charcoal Inside

Burning charcoal indoors is incredibly dangerous – charcoal can give off lethal amounts of carbon monoxide.

7. Keep Flammable Materials Away

If a spark from the fireplace gets near sometime flammable near the fireplace or mantel, it could easily ignite.

8. Never Leave a Fire Going When You Go To Sleep

You also should never close the damper with hot ashes in the fireplace. A closed damper can help the fire heat back up and will force toxic carbon monoxide into your home.

9. Follow Synthetic Logs’ Directions

You should never break a synthetic log in order to quicken the fire or use more than one log at a time. They tend to burn unevenly, releasing higher levels of carbon monoxide.

10. Educate Your Family on Fireplace Safety

Help your children understand that they can get burned if they play near or get too close to a fireplace.

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