The Winter Holiday Season and Fireplace Safety
The holiday season can be a very special time, and many of the happiest memories created take place around the fireplace. The joyous times can be cut short, however, if proper precautions haven’t been taken with regard to fireplace safety. Fireplaces and wood stoves are sources of warmth and pleasure, but they are also potentially dangerous and should not be used haphazardly. In addition to the usual dangers associated with the use of solid fuel appliances, holiday decorations and seasonal activities can be fire hazards. The following are tips for preventing house fires during the winter holiday season.
A Clean Chimney. The result of using a fireplace without ensuring that the chimney is in good condition and able to function properly can be a house fire. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has a mission of reducing the burden of fires, and they recommend having your chimney inspected annually. There are many potential problems that can arise with a chimney. Left neglected, a small problem can quickly become a nightmare.
One of the reasons chimney cleaning is essential is because some amount of creosote and soot is deposited in the chimney flue every time a fire is burned in the fireplace or wood stove. Creosote is highly flammable and starts out as a substance that is easy to remove. If not cleaned, creosote goes into two other forms, and the last stage of creosote is in the form of a thick glaze and is very difficult to clean. If glaze catches fire, the ultimate result could be a house fire because of the extreme damage that a persistent, well-fueled chimney fire can cause.
Basic Fireplace Safety. To eliminate the various hazards related to use of a fireplace or wood stove, certain steps are needed year round, including:
- Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home, with one outside of all bedrooms. Check the alarms routinely to ensure they are in good working order.
- Also install carbon monoxide alarms and ensure that they are working correctly. Carbon monoxide is extremely dangerous and has earned the nickname the “silent killer” because of the fact that it is odorless, tasteless, invisible, and deadly.
- Only burn seasoned firewood in your wood stove or fireplace. Do not burn other materials, such as leaves, magazines, or treated wood. In addition to the fact that the appliances are not made to burn other materials, some materials, such as treated wood and colored magazine pages, can release toxic fumes.
- Handle ash disposal with extreme care, to avoid causing a sudden, out-of-control fire.
Winter Holiday Fireplace Safety. Some traditional activities that go along with the winter holiday season can become fire hazards. See safety tips below:
- Do not place the Christmas tree too close to the fireplace because it could catch fire. Keep a fire extinguisher handy, just in case of a fire.
- Hang stockings where they are not potential fire hazards.
- Be sure that wrapped gifts are at least 3 feet from fireplaces, portable heaters, wood stoves, and Christmas candles, to avoid a possible fire.
- When the holiday season is over, do not burn Christmas trees, gift boxes, or wrapping paper in the fireplace because all of these materials create potential hazards.
With a visit from one of our professional chimney technicians and some special care, you can safely enjoy your fireplace or wood stove throughout the holiday season.
Chimney Solutions, Inc.
1155 McFarland 400 Drive, Alpharetta GA 30004