Aardvark Newsletter No. 14
DO's & DON'Ts of Fire Safety
- Use seasoned hardwood (split and cut) that's over 1 year old.
- Remember to open the damper.
- Slightly open a door or a window before lighting the fire so as to create a draft, which will eliminate any smoking problems as the fire is started.
- As a safety precaution, use a fire screen and fireproof rugs around the hearth to prevent sparks from catching carpets, rugs, etc. on fire.
- Use kindling, starter bricks, and/or fat wood sticks when lighting the fire for the first time.
- Keep wood covered with tarp or cover to prevent moisture absorption which would cause more smoke than fire. This would increase creosote and soot build-up that could someday result in a chimney fire.
- It's strongly recommended to use rechargeable fire extinguishers and smoke and carbon monoxide detectors!
- Do not use "Dura-Flame" or any other artificial logs because of possible toxicity, noxious odor, and coal-like residue in your fireplace and chimney.
- Do not use wood less than a year old, or any other softwood (e.g., pine).
- Do not burn trash, large amounts of paper, wrapping paper, Christmas trees, etc. This helps prevent chimney fires.
What You Need To Know About Fireplace Safety
The U.S. Fire Administration states that over one-third of the American population use wood stoves, fireplaces, and other fuel-powered appliances to warm or heat their homes. Unfortunately fires related to home heating or warming also account for more than 30% of residential home fire incidents every year.
A lot of these fire incidents occur because a lot of homeowners are simple unaware of the danger and risks involved with heating their homes using wood as well as other sold fuels, and this is why fireplace safety is so important.
Nevertheless, by following the proper procedures as well as some fireplace safety tips given in this article, you can keep your fireplace in proper operating condition, greatly reducing the risk of fire.
Fireplace Safety Tip #1: How to Maintain your Fireplace
No matter what kind of fireplace you are using, whether it is a custom fireplace, contemporary fireplace, corner electric fireplace, etc, it is of paramount importance to keep your chimneys and flues inspected and cleaned before the cold season begins. You have to make sure that you have a mesh screen spark arrester to cover the opening of your chimney to keep the hot sparks in as well as to keep birds and other small animals from entering the chimney. You should also keep your roof free of leaves and other debris and make it a habit every heating season to remove and branches above the vents, flues, or chimneys.
Inside your home, make sure the fireplace hearth remains free from decorations, debris, and other flammable materials. It is also safe to use your fireplace with a metal screen. If your fireplace has a glass door, leave the door open when the fire is burning. It is also a good idea to install or use a stovepipe thermometer to keep the flue temperature monitored.
Fireplace Safety Tip #2: How to Use your Fireplace Safely
When using your fireplace, it is important to remember not to use flammable liquids like kerosene, lighter fluid, or gasoline to start a fire. You should also use seasoned hardwood for your fireplace. Slightly dry and slightly wet softwood can accelerate the buildup of creosote because it burns faster at lower temperature compared to dry wood. Because of the risks of producing carbon monoxide, you should not use a hibachi or charcoal in your fireplace. You should also not burn trash, cardboard boxes, and other debris in your fireplace.
Whenever you build a fire, make sure to check if the damper is open. Once the fire is already burning, never leave it unattended. Be sure to extinguish the fire completely before you go to bed or leave the house.
Other Fireplace Safety Tips:
- Heap firewood outside around 40 feet away from your house.
- You should install carbon monoxide alarms and smoke alarms on every floor of your home and make sure to test the batteries monthly. You should also change the batteries once a year.
- Always keep a fire extinguisher beside the fireplace.
- Make sure to provide proper ventilation all your heating equipment.
- All vent pipes must be extended 3 to 5 feet above the roof of the house.
Fireplace safety is something we need to know.
Hope everyone has a Safe and Happy Holiday. Remember to get those chimneys inspected and cleaned before you use them this holiday season. Safety is #1 prevention for fires.
From all of us here at Aardvark Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!