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Essential Fireplace Safety Tips

Looks like the cold weather is coming early this year. Within the span of a few weeks we seem to have gone from slightly chilly sweater weather, to all out toque-season. At home, for many people, that also means it’s time to light a fire in the hearth. However, before you grab the marshmallows for toasting, please take a moment to consider fireplace safety.

Clean Up

Your first step prior to using your fireplace should be to have your chimney professionally cleaned, in order to remove any creosote buildup. Gas fireplaces should also be serviced on a yearly basis.

Ensure Good Air Circulation

Before lighting the fire, open the damper to promote good air circulation. You should also leave it open until after the fire is out: Note – don’t forget to close it.

Use Screens

Ensure that your safety screen (or spark guard) is in place – this screen is important, because it helps to contain embers. It also keeps children and pets away from the hot glass fronts that can be found with many gas-burning fireplaces.

Keep Kids Away

Children, especially tiny ones are naturally drawn to the flicker and light of a fireplace. So, take extra precautions by putting a barrier (such as a freestanding baby gate) in front of the fireplace. Of course, it is also important to talk to them about fireplace safety.

Burn the Right Wood

If you have a wood-burning fireplace, only burn woods that have been seasoned for at least six months. This is because green wood produces more creosote.

Don’t Burn These Items

Do not burn cardboard in the fireplace. According to the Canadian Lung Association, doing so can release toxins in the home. Wrapping paper, plastics and Styrofoam should also be kept out of the fireplace.

Keep the Area Clear

Make sure that clutter and furniture are not placed in close proximity of your fireplace. Even with safety screens in use, it still pays to be cautious.

Precautions for the Holidays

The approaching holiday season brings along some specific fireplace safety precautions to consider. Take extra care during this time, to prevent any fire-related accidents.

  • If you plan to have a tree, be sure to keep it away from the fireplace.
  • Do not use your tree as firewood. Softwoods, such as pine produce excessive amount of creosote.
  • Decorations like stockings and garlands can easily catch fire. It’s best not to use the fireplace if there are decorations hanging from the mantle or situated on your hearth.

Be Prepared

While having reliably functioning smoke and Co2 detectors installed in your home is always a necessary safety precaution, it is especially essential during fireplace season. It is also a good idea to have a filled and functioning fire extinguisher close at hand whenever your fireplace is in use.

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