As the chill of winter sets in, it's time to cozy up by the fireplace or wood stove. To ensure your fire stays safely contained, let's review some important guidelines:
- If possible, keep a window cracked open while the fire is burning.
- Always ensure the damper or flue is open before starting a fire. Keep it open until the fire is completely extinguished to draw smoke out of the house. Never close the damper until the embers have stopped burning.
- Avoid using your fireplace as the primary source of heating for your home, and don't let the fire burn for more than five hours at a time.
- Use dry and well-aged wood for a cleaner burn. Wet or green wood can lead to soot buildup in the chimney and increase the risk of a chimney fire.
- Burn smaller pieces of wood on a grate for faster burning and less smoke production.
- Regularly clean out ashes from previous fires, keeping the ash level at the base of the fireplace to 1 inch or less. Excessive ash restricts air supply and results in more smoke.
- Schedule an annual professional inspection of your chimney to ensure its safety and proper functioning.
- Install a chimney cap to prevent water damage, blockages caused by debris, and nesting of animals. Consider using a spark arrestor to minimize the risk of sparks igniting fires on the roof or lawn.
- Take precautions to prevent burns from the hot glass front of some fireplaces, especially for children. Install safety screens to reduce the risk of contact with the hot surface.
- Keep the area around the fireplace clear of flammable items such as furniture, drapes, newspapers, and books.
- Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended. Make sure it is fully extinguished before going to bed or leaving the house. If you leave the room while the fire is burning or the fireplace is still hot, ensure your small child accompanies you.
- Store fireplace tools, accessories, lighters, and matches out of reach of young children.
- Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors throughout your home.
- Have a fire extinguisher readily available in case of emergencies.
- Never allow children to play near or with fire tools, even if adults are present.
- Educate children early about the dangers of fires and the heat emitted by fireplaces.
By diligently practicing fire safety measures, you can keep your family safe and warm. In the unfortunate event of fire or smoke damage, remember that SERVPRO of Dubuque has the expertise and equipment to restore your home to its pre-damaged state, ensuring it's "Like it never even happened."