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A safe/secure fireplace not only brings piece of mind for your family but will also give you long term use! There is nothing like a cozy, warm fire in the winter. In order to keep the air healthy and reduce the risk of fire, you need to know the risks involved. Here are some free tips on staying warm and safe this winter!
Select the proper woods:
Using the wrong wood in a fireplace will produce dangerous fumes like carbon monoxide and heavy smoke! First use only dried hardwoods such as oak, maple and hickory, don’t use softwoods and never burn newly cut or wet wood. Wood should be aged for at least a year to allow the dissipation of creosote. Do not burn wood that has been painted, pressure treated or made with glue (plywood/ particle boards).
Also, never use papers that contain bleach or dyes. All of these “No No’s” can lead to the release of harmful gases into the room and will contribute to the build up of tar inside the chimney itself which can eventually block the flue or ignite a fire when super heated!
Before using you fireplace a general inspection should be done. An obstructed chimney or flue causes smoke to build up in the house. Blockage can be caused by soot and creosote buildup or by bird's nests. If you cannot do this inspection please check your local contractors for a professional to do this service. It’s worth the time and money to keep your home safe!
Before starting a fire, make sure you have all the proper tools as well as taking the safety precautions. You need a grate to hold the wood up from the floor to allow the fire to get the air it needs to ensure proper combustion. Place the wood at the back of the fireplace and don't place rugs in front of the fireplace unless they are non-combustible hearth rugs made especially for the purpose. Protective doors or a fire screen in the front of the opening itself will help prevent sparks from coming into contact with combustibles in the room. Keep all combustibles at least 3 feet away from the fire. The further away, the better off you are. Finally, check for blockage and obstructions not only in the flue or chimney, but on the roof or in trees above the chimney opening. Hot sparks may ignite a nest that could fall on your roof and ignite your shingles.
Keep a working and up to date fire extinguisher in the room but away from the fire at a safe distance. Matches and lighters need to be kept in a locked area to prevent children from starting fires. Adult supervision is recommended whenever the fireplace is in use!You need to be prepared in case of a fire. Children especially need to fully understand what to do in case of a fire and should practice these rules often. Otherwise, they will naturally run and hide from a fire instead of getting out of the house safely. Get a family fire escape plan ready and have fire drills at least once a month. You can even print out the drill and tape it to the refrigerator so the whole family is reminded often of the plan!
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