With temperatures dropping and winter quickly approaching, most of us cannot wait to light the wood in our fireplaces and officially kick off this year’s holiday season. In fact, more than one-third of Americans use fireplaces, wood stoves and other fuel-fired appliances as their primary source of heat in winter. While the thoughts of crackling wood and marshmallows roasting fill our minds, we are often unaware of the fire risks associated with heating with wood and other solid fuels. Shockingly, heating fires, such as those caused by wood burning fireplaces, account for 36 percent of residential fires. We often forget that all home heating systems require regular maintenance to operate properly and safely. Listed below are a few fire safety tips to help keep your fireplace burning safely this winter.
Keep your fireplace and wood stove clean.
- Chimneys and wood burning stoves should be inspected and cleaned annually by a specialist. Most heating fires are caused by creosote buildup in chimneys and stovepipes.
- Keep the area clear of decorations and other flammable materials.
- Always use a metal-mesh screen while your fireplace is in use. The will help contain sparks and pieces of burning debris.
- For your wood burning stove, install stovepipe thermostats to monitor flue temperatures.
- To reduce creosote buildup, keep air inlets open on wood stoves and never confine the air supply to fireplaces.
Burn fuels safely.
Keep your home’s exterior protected.
- Keep all firewood stacked at least 30 feet away from your home.
- Cover the top of your chimney with a mesh screen spark arrester and clear the roof of all debris such as leaves and pine needles. One spark from the chimney is all it takes to set a leaf on fire along with the rest of your roof.
- Cut down any branches dangling above the chimney, flues or vents.
Keep your home’s interior protected.
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