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Practice Fireplace Safety during the Cold Winter Months

A little caution and some common sense can prevent a cozy fire from turning into a devastating blaze

Relaxing in front of a roaring fire is standard practice for many of us in New England, especially with the frigid temps we’ve experienced so far this month. But before you strike a match, take a few minutes to review these standard safety tips to prevent your cozy fire from turning into a flaming disaster.

Chimney Cleaning

Creosote, a residue that builds up in fireplace chimneys and flues, greatly increases the risk of chimney fires, which can be devastating. Signs of a chimney fire include:

  • • loud cracking or popping noises, or a low rumbling sound;
  • • dense smoke in the house;
  • • an intense, hot smell; and/or
  • • visible flames and/or dense smoke from the chimney top.

It is a great practice to have your chimney inspected annually, and professionally cleaned as needed. Even if you haven’t had an inspection yet this season, it’s not too late, but you may have to wait for a thaw.

Be Prepared

It’s also wise to be properly equipped to keep your family and home safe. This includes:

  • • having a working fire extinguisher near the fireplace;
  • • ensuring that smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are properly installed and functioning on each level of your home; and
  • • using a mesh, metal screen or glass fireplace doors to prevent sparks and embers from leaping out onto flooring or other materials that may burn. Before lighting your fireplace, do a quick scan and move any combustible or flammable items away from the fireplace, such as blankets, books and newspapers.

Burn and Not to Burn

When building a fire in your fireplace, follow these common-sense rules:

  • • Remember to open the flue/damper.
  • • Use seasoned, split hardwood that is cut to the right length; don’t overload the fireplace.
  • • To start a fire, use newspaper, dry kindling, or fire-starters manufactured for this purpose. Never use flammable liquids, such as lighter fluid.
  • • Never burn plastic, coated paper, or charcoal in your fireplace as they can release toxic gasses and carbon monoxide.

Using your fireplace can be a great way to save money on home-heating while keeping you warm during the frigid winter months. It’s important to remember, however, that house fires can result in devastating losses. In addition to the tips above, you can also ensure your home’s protection by making sure you have the right insurance coverage. If you’re not sure, give us a call. We’ll be happy to review your homeowners coverage and make sure you are in good shape.