On a cold winter day, it’s nice to cozy up in front of a bright, warm fire. Every year house fires occur due to the improper use of the fireplace. Luckily, fireplace safety isn’t complicated. There are a few basic things to keep in mind. Inspect the fireplace every year, maintain your safety devices, and make sure the fire is well contained. Let’s look at ways you can promote fireplace safety in your home.

Perform an Annual Fireplace Safety Check

Once a year, before you use your fireplace, call a professional out to inspect and clean it. Chimney professionals will clear the creosote that accumulated during last year’s fires, reducing the risk of a chimney fire. They will also inspect the condition of the masonry and brickwork. After an official inspection, you’ll be assured that your fireplace is safe to use.

Use Fireplace Safety Devices

Preventing carbon monoxide buildup in your home is important to stay safe while enjoying the fireplace. Carbon monoxide is invisible, odorless, and toxic to humans. It is released when burning wood. When your fireplace is working properly, the carbon monoxide created by fire is pulled up the chimney.

Anything that interferes with this airflow, such as a structural problem with the masonry or a blockage in the flue, can allow carbon monoxide to flow back into your home. A reliable and high-quality carbon monoxide detector costs less than $100. Install it at least 15 feet from your fireplace and ideally a few feet off the floor.

When enjoying the fire, make sure there is a fire extinguisher nearby. Learn how to use it and teach your family members.

Contain the Fire

A contained fire is cheery and comforting. An uncontrolled fire is terrifying and dangerous.

There are two places fire could escape your fireplace: from above, leaving the chimney and spreading to nearby trees, or from the firebox, spreading to flammable objects inside your home. To keep the fireplace safe, establish a perimeter around the chimney and the hearth. Make sure this area is free of anything that could catch fire. This includes curtains, rugs, blankets, and furniture. Use a mesh fire screen or glass fire doors to keep sparks and embers from escaping.

For the chimney, fire safety means keeping it free of leaves and debris and trimming back tree limbs that grow within 10 feet of the chimney opening.

Safe Handling of Ashes

Build up of ashes in the fireplace will affect the airflow and how well your fireplace works. Empty the ashes regularly. Ashes can hide hot coals for days after the fire goes out, so always treat fireplace ashes as if they are hot.

24 hours or more after your fire dies out, put on fireproof gloves and use a shovel to collect the ashes in a metal bucket. Carefully transfer the bucket outside and mix water into the ashes, then use a metal lid to block oxygen flow. After three days, you can safely dispose of the ashes in your household garbage or in a designated area.

With these essentials taken care of, you can relax and enjoy nice fires all season long. By practicing fireplace safety, you’ll keep your family and home warm while preventing accidents.

D.N.D. Home Inspections offers inspection services to customers in Riverside and San Diego counties in California. Contact us to request an appointment.