As the weather cools down, the fireplace begins to look more and more enticing. However, your fireplace can be an extreme danger to you and your family if it isn’t properly prepared. Before you decide to light it up this winter season, follow these 10 fireplace safety tips:

1. Annual fireplace and chimney inspection. Getting your fireplace and chimney inspected each year is an easy way to know your fireplace is safe, clean, and free from any blockage that may have built up throughout the non-winter months.

2. Install or inspect smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. These are important for any home, especially those with a fireplace. Test detectors monthly and change the batteries once a year; this simple (but necessary) step will ensure you and your family stay safe.

3. Ensure damper/flue is open. It may seem obvious to some, but first-time homeowners may not be aware that the damper and flue must be open when lighting a fire. By not doing this, smoke will spill into the home instead of up through the chimney. If you don’t know whether the damper is open, take a flashlight and look up the chimney.

4. No wrapping paper. All the presents have been unwrapped, there’s a pile of wrapping paper, and there’s a contained fire in your living room. Why not take advantage of an easy cleanup and burn all the paper? Don’t do this, as the paper can create flash fires and end an otherwise great holiday.

5. Keep a fire extinguisher on hand. Even if you never need it, a fire extinguisher can help put your mind at ease or put out a flash fire created by disregarding the previous tip.

“Your fireplace can be an extreme danger to you and your family if it isn’t properly prepared.”

6. Use dry and well-aged wood. Using wet or green wood logs causes more smoke and leads to soot buildup in your chimney. Make sure your wood is dry and well-aged to create a safe and enjoyable fire.

7. Keep it short. Your fireplace is not a furnace, and it shouldn’t be used as such. Keep your burning time to five-hour maximum intervals per day.

8. Purchase a fireplace screen and non-flammable rug. The screen keeps children and other household animals away from the flames, as well as adding a decorative touch to your fireplace. A non-flammable rug ensures rowdy sparks won’t damage your floor.

9. Have a chimney cap installed. This prevents water, debris, and animals from invading your home through the chimney.

10. Don’t forget the firebox. Clean and maintain the area where the logs burn. Ash buildup can be dangerous; a thin coating is fine for insulation, but any more than that should be swept away.

If you have any questions or are looking for more information, feel free to reach out to me. I look forward to hearing from you.