There’s nothing cosier than a fire in the winter, even in sunny San Diego. Of course, using a fireplace requires a minimum of vigilance, precaution and maintenance. Clean Earth Restorations has put together a short article on staying safe with fireplaces.
There are two kinds of fireplaces – gas and wood-burning. Each has their own advantages and disadvantages, and their own safety requirements.
Have a look — do you use all these precautions when using your fireplace?
Safety Tips for Wood-Burning Fireplaces
- Have your chimney inspected annually by a professional. A chimney sweep must make sure your chimney is sound and free of obstructions and/or soot build-up. A cracked chimney can cause an excess of heat build-up that escapes through the crack and starts a fire elsewhere in your home’s stucture. Here’s a quick link to a list of Yelp’s chimney sweeps in San Diego. Have you had your chimney swept yet?
- Make sure you have a cap on top of chimney to prevent burning debris from flying out and causing uncontrolled exterior fires. Your chimney sweep can check its condition during his/her annual inspection.
- Equip your home with smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Check them monthly to make sure they are functioning correctly and replace batteries as soon as you hear the warning sign.
- Use safe fire-building techniques (see below).
- Keep flammable materials clear of fire place, including wood, newspaper, magazines, and rugs.
- Keep pets, kids, and guests or family-members who easily loose their balance a safe distance away from the hearth.
- Never use liquid fire starters or gasoline — they can bring the fire out into the room quickly and/or explosively.
- Keep glass fireplace doors open to bring in cooler air up through the flue. Keep screens closed to prevent sparks from flying out.
- Use fireplace tools to move hot logs and embers around – never your hands!
- Never leave the fire unattended. Make sure it is completely out before you go to bed or leave the house.
Safety Tips for Gas Fireplaces
- Gas fireplaces should be maintained by a qualified specialty retail service to ensure proper functioning of gas input, vents, air circulation and carbon monoxide detector. Proper functioning of the equipment is ESSENTIAL to your safety!
- Keep the fireplace instructions nearby and familiarize yourself with them before having a fire.
- Equip your home with smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
- Keep children and pets away from the glass doors which can heat up significantly and burn a hand or paw that leans on them.
- Keep your fire-lighting key in a safe place where curious children cannot find it and start the fireplace by themselves.
- Keep the inside and outside of the glass fireplace doors clean to prevent debris build-up from catching fire.
- Even though your gas fireplace isn’t burning wood, it’s still a real fire — treat it with the same respect and caution you would a wood-burning fire.
How to Safely Build a Wood Fire (in a Wood-Burning Fireplace)
- Put crumpled paper on the grate and cover with a small mound of kindling.
- Open the fireplace’s damper.
- Light the paper/kindling.
- Once the kindling has started well, add seasoned wood (that is correctly cut for the hearth).
- Close the fire screen.
Of course, whether you have a fireplace or not, it is important to keep a fire extinguisher in your home. For more information, see our recent post about different types of fire extinguishers.
Clean Earth Restorations is a San Diego County damage restoration company specializing in smoke and fire damage remediation as well as mold, sewage, flood, and hoarding clean-up. Contact us today for a free estimate from our family-owned and -run organization.
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