If you're like many homeowners, you light up your fireplace to chase away the chills. Your fireplace does double duty this time of year: As glowing embers warm your living spaces, they also add the perfect cozy atmosphere. As you ignite the flames for the first time, remember to keep fireplace safety in mind.
Our real estate agents believe a fireplace adds warmth and beauty to your home, but we also recognize the inherent danger one can cause. To help you keep your home safe this winter, we researched fireplace safety so we could share these tips with you.
- Maintain and clean your fireplace and chimney
Before you ignite your fireplace, remember to inspect it and clean away the soot and creosote buildup from last year's flames. Your chimney provides an exit for the smoke, gases, hydrocarbon, and other substances your fireplace produces, and while this minimizes the direct harm to you and your family, the creosote they produce causes fires that burn out of control. DIY Network offers tips for cleaning and maintaining a fireplace. If you'd prefer to have a professional perform this annual task, you can locate certified chimney sweeps and learn more fireplace safety facts at the Chimney Safety Institute of America.
- Keep decorations away from open flames
Holiday decorations are beautiful, but many are also flammable. When you deck your halls too close too your fireplace, a stray spark can easily ignite natural and artificial decorations. National Fire Prevention Association statistics show that 42% of holiday decoration fires occurred because decorations were too close to a heat source. Be sure to remember this when you decorate. Keep your Christmas tree and your boughs of holly a safe distance from any open flame or heat source.
- Add a screen
Fireplace screens have been around since the 1800s. The styles have changed of course, but they are still a popular method for preventing sparks and embers from escaping and causing damage and injuries.
- Install a carbon monoxide detector
As with any burning fuel, the wood in your fireplace can produce carbon monoxide. It's poisonous but virtually undetectable without assistance.
- Don't use flammable liquids in wood-burning fireplaces
Fire starting liquids are highly flammable and difficult to control. The containers can explode or catch fire if you bring them too close to an open flame. They can also leave a flammable path for flames to follow.
- Be cautious with portable fireplaces
The NFPA cites portable ethanol-burning fireplaces as a developing safety risk. Make sure your fireplace is cool before you add fuel and carefully clean up any spills. Whether you use your portable fireplace indoors or out, make sure the area is properly ventilated.
- Keep children away from any fire
Whether you're using a built-in or portable fireplace or a fire pit, carefully supervise any children in the area. Never let a child light a fireplace. Establish a child-safety boundary that lets kids know they can't get any closer.
- Put out the flames before you leave
Fires can be unpredictable. You should never leave them burning unless you're right there to monitor what's going on. Before you leave home or go to bed, make sure the flames and embers are extinguished.
Your Michiana Real Estate Professionals
Right now is a perfect time to find your new home. Contact Cressy & Everett Real Estate if you're buying or selling a home in Michigan or Indiana. We can also share more information about fire safety.