The fireplace provides a cozy place to spend time with family and friends on the coldest days of the year. However, fire can be dangerous. Keep your family safe this season with these helpful tips for fireplace safety.

Fireplace Safety: Declutter the Hearth

Before building a fire this season, clean up around the fireplace. Collect magazines and newspapers, pick up children’s toys, and remove other clutter near the fire. Anything flammable should be relocated several feet away from the hearth. Furniture, rugs, and draperies may catch fire or be damaged by extreme heat. Make sure belongings and home decor are at least five feet away from the flames.

Clean Your Chimney to Improve Fireplace Safety

Late summer and early fall are the best times of the year to hire a chimney sweep. Get a head start on your winter preparations by having your chimney cleaned before the weather gets cold. Leaves, pine needles, animal nests, and creosote accumulate in the chimney over time. These materials are flammable and could ignite if embers float up the flue, leading to a house fire.

Purchase the Right Firewood

Stock up on firewood for the winter. Purchase well-seasoned hardwood for the cleanest burn. Oak, locust, ash, maple, and birch are great choices for indoor fires. Softwoods – like pine – don’t burn as cleanly and contribute to creosote buildup in the chimney. Never burn driftwood or treated or stained wood in the fireplace. These materials contain chemicals that are harmful to your health.

Install a Fireplace Screen

Use a fireplace screen to keep logs and stray embers inside the firebox. A screen or glass doors are especially important if you have young children or pets who might be curious about the flames. The screen will provide an effective barrier between the fire and your living space.

Extinguish the Fire

If you need to step away from the fireplace, ensure an adult is present to tend the flames. After enjoying the fire, extinguish the flames completely. Using the fireplace poker, spread embers out so they will cool. Then, shovel cooled ash over fuel that is still burning. Finally, you can sprinkle baking soda over the embers to help extinguish the fire. Before leaving the house or going to bed, verify the fire is safely out.

Safe Disposal of Ashes

When cleaning the fireplace, use a heat-resistant shovel to scoop the ashes into a metal bucket or receptacle. Use care; the ashes may still be hot. Remove the ashes to a bucket, and allow them to cool for several days before disposing of them in the compost pile.

Pro Home Inspection Services provides inspection services to the Grand Strand and the Greater Charleston Area. Contact us to request an appointment.