The bitter cold has hit and we are all looking for ways to keep our loved ones warm. Blankets, slippers and heaters are being used all the time in my house. Even with that, sometimes we still feel cold. At least our bodies do. In most houses, the faster source of heat is a fireplace. In my old house, I had a gas one. But in my neighborhood now, only wood burning ones are in the homes, and safety is key for those in particular. No one wants to have an accident or have their home filled with smoke! So before you start that fire, make sure you are following protocol with these fireplace safety tips.
Open the Flue
I am guilty here. I have started a fire, smiling happily at the sudden warmth in the house and then turned around to see smoke filling the room. Then I have to put out the fire, wait for it to cool and then reach up and open the flue (damper). Some fireplaces have that option on the side, but if they don’t, forgetting to open it before you start the fire can be a pain. So take that moment beforehand to reach up and make sure it is open.
Leave the Area Around the Fireplace Open
If you have a living room with everyday carpet and it is bumping up to the fireplace area, you need to get a fireproof rug to put in front of it. You can get them at any store that has fireplaces or equipment. My old house had tile in front of it so I didn’t need one. But around here, we all have fireproof rugs to prevent damage to our carpet. In addition, make sure your fireplace tools, any décor or other items that you normally store on your fireplace shelf are removed. Ashes like to jump so you don’t want a hazard for them to adhere to nearby.
Crack a Window and Open the Glass While in Use
It may seem strange to open a window in the dead of winter when you are using your fireplace but it is necessary for proper and safe use. It helps eliminate any smoke filtering into the room. The cold air will go up the chimney so you won’t notice it is open anyway. Also, if your fireplace has a glass door, make sure you leave it open while the fire is burning. Close the screen behind the glass to help prevent large sparks from coming out. Watch to make sure the smoke is going up and not out and you are good to go! Clean the glass doors when they get sooty or smoky. Just use some dishwashing liquid and razor blade for the sticky stuff. Use a newspaper to clean the doors. It prevents lint from developing on glass!
Keep Kids Far Away From the Fireplace
I will never forget the day that I turned around after changing my newborn’s diaper to see my toddler walking precariously toward the gas fireplace. She got too close for comfort and at that moment, I realized how alert I would have to be with children and a fireplace in the house. From that day on, if my fire was going, my eyes never left my kids and where they were. No matter what. Even after the fire is out, curious kids can get into hot ashes or touch hot logs and burn themselves. So make sure you watch them closely from start to cool.
Fireplaces are a beautiful centerpiece in any home. Making sure you use them safely will add warmth to your memories.