According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), more home fires occur during the winter months than in any other season of the year. Failure to safely operate a fireplace and chimney is a contributing factor. Before curling up in front of the fireplace this year, the Eureka Fire Protection District encourages all Missouri homeowners to review essential fireplace and chimney safety recommendations.
#1. Schedule a Chimney Inspection and Cleaning
To prevent fires in your chimney, schedule annual inspections, and cleanings. A CSIA-Certified Chimney Professional will check for dangerous creosote deposits, flue blockages, and other issues that could present a fire hazard.
#2. Never Leave a Fire Unattended
Never leave a fire unattended. Always put the fire out before going to sleep or leaving home. To safely extinguish a fire in a wood-burning fireplace, follow these steps:
Use your poker to spread the ashes and embers across the base of the fireplace. Spreading the heat will help kill the fire.
Using the poker, spread ashes over the embers.
Use baking soda or water to put the fire out.
Monitor the fire after extinguishing it for several minutes to ensure no sparks reignite.
Put ashes in a metal container with a lid outside, at least 3 feet from your home.
#3. Only Burn Approved Fuels
To reduce the fire threat, you should only burn dry wood or other fuels designed for indoor fireplaces. Never burn cardboard boxes, wrapping paper, trash, or Christmas trees.
#3. Ensure Your Chimney Gets Adequate Air
A chimney getting adequate air will burn at hotter temperatures and have a better draft, which means you'll see less creosote production. Follow these steps to improve your fireplace draft:
Sweep the chimney.
Keep the damper fully open when the fireplace is in use.
Leave the fireplace doors open for some time before each fire.
Follow the manufacturer's instructions for optimal performance.
#4. Keep Flammable Objects Away From the Fireplace
If you have an open fireplace, keep matches, lighters, and candles away from the fireplace.
Use a fireplace screen to prevent embers from flying out of your fireplace.
Don't store flammable liquids near your fireplace.
#5. Maintain Working Smoking Alarms & Have a Fire Extinguisher Ready
Working smoke alarms can save lives when there is a fire. They should be installed in every sleeping room and outside each separate sleeping area. Homes with multiple levels should have a smoke alarm on each floor.
A portable fire extinguisher can help you put out a small fire or contain it until the fire department arrives. Before operating a fire extinguisher, consider these important details:
The U. S. Fire Administration recommends that only those trained in the proper use and maintenance of fire extinguishers use them! Contact your local fire department for training in your area.
If you do not think you can safely put the fire out in five seconds using an extinguisher, do not attempt to use it! Leave the area and call 911.
When using an extinguisher, follow the PASS method. Pull the pin, Aim low, Squeeze the handle, and Sweep from side to side.
Everyone loves nestling before a fire, especially in the colder months. With these fire safety and maintenance tips, you should be able to enjoy your fireplace without fear of burning the house down.
About the Author:
Eureka Fire Protection District is an EMS, Fire, and Rescue service provider located in Eureka, Missouri. Staffed with nearly one hundred volunteer and career Paramedics, EMTs, Firefighters, Junior Firefighters, and administrative teams, the department provides its local community with fire prevention, education, safety resources, and emergency relief. Eureka Fire Protection District maintains a reputation as a well-run, high-performing fire department by keeping up to date with the latest in life-saving training and technology.