** This article was previously published on Examiner.
There are few things as inviting as a roaring fire. A cozy fireplace is a great way to stay warm, and a helpful tool in lowering energy costs. However, when not maintenanced and used correctly, a fireplace can pose a dangerous threat to your home and family. There are simple things you can do to make your fireplace safer and more efficient. Utilize these fireplace safety tips before and during cold winter weather.
There is more to owning a fireplace than simply lighting a fire. Your fireplace will work better and be much safer when you use the fireplace safety tips listed here.
Fireplace safety tips:
Inspect/Clean chimney – Before cold weather hits, have a professional come in and inspect the chimney for any problems. The chimney should also be cleaned before use every year. This is especially important for first time home buyers who have recently purchased a home with a fireplace.
Clean out ashes – Before you use the fireplace each time, clean out ashes left from the previous fire.
Open the damper – Always remember to open the damper before you light a fire. When you are ready to close the damper, remember that the fire must be COMPLETELY out before you do so.
Use a fireplace screen – A glass or metal fireplace screen should be used to catch embers or sparks. This will prevent fires and stop injuries to the occupants inside the room. ALWAYS use the fireplace screen when the fireplace is in use.
Remove flammable materials – Remove any flammable materials away from the fireplace. This includes materials in front of, or on top of, the fireplace itself.
Use fire resistant rugs – Place a fire resistant rug in front of the fireplace. This will help catch any embers or sparks and will protect your flooring.
Inspect smoke detectors – Prior to using your fireplace for the first time, inspect all smoke detectors in the home. If batteries need replaced, change them now. If you have a carbon monoxide detector, check it too and replace any low batteries. If you don’t have a carbon monoxide detector – get one.
Use synthetic logs carefully – Never break apart a synthetic log before use. When the logs are broken, they release higher levels of carbon monoxide, which can prove deadly to those inside the home.
Don’t go to bed until the fire is out – One of the most important fireplace safety tips you’ll come across is this one. Begin allowing the fire to die down at least one hour before you go to bed. NEVER go to bed until the fire is completely out, and remember to NEVER close the damper before the fire is extinguished entirely.
In addition to the fireplace safety tips listed above, you will also want to learn how to build a safe fire inside the home. The Hearth, Patio and Barbeque Association recommends using the following technique to build a safe fire inside the home:
1. Crumble paper on the grate within the fireplace and cover it with kindling.
2. Open the fireplace damper and light paper.
3. Once the fire is burning brightly, add dry wood to the fire and shut the fire screen.
4. DO NOT OVERLOAD THE FIREPLACE
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Personal knowledge and experience