Fireplace Safety Tips
Here are some simple things you can do to keep your fireplace use safe, or at least to minimize the harm if something does go wrong.
You never have to look at the inside of your chimney, so you don't think about it much. But it can be a fire hazard. Have it swept at least once a year to make sure creosote hasn't built up, putting you at risk for a chimney fire. The chimney sweep can also inspect the whole system for other hazards.
Birds love to build nests in chimneys. Leaves can clutter them up. Any obstruction presents a smoke hazard. A chimney cap will prevent this.
Bigger is not always better. Smaller, hotter fires present much less risk for a chimney fire or smoke. Leave air space in between each log and plenty of air at the top of the pile.
A good screen can keep sparks from shooting out onto your living room carpet while still providing your fire with plenty of air.
It is tempting, but even almost dead fires can suddenly shoot sparks and set off a chimney fire.
Carbon monoxide can build up.
Keep flammable items away from fireplace. Newspapers, magazines, curtains, Christmas trees, etc. (Especially Christmas trees. After two weeks in your home, they're pure tinder.)
Make sure everyone in the family respects the fire. Don't let them run or engage in horseplay near it. Teach them to "stop, drop, and roll" if they do catch fire. Screen off the area for small children and pets who can't be taught.
Charcoal will produce carbon monoxide.
Smoke detectors on each level the house and outside all bedrooms will alert you before the fire makes escape impossible.
Make sure everyone knows at least two routes to exit their room and other areas of the house.
A fire extinguisher can keep a small disaster from turning into a large one. Make sure everyone knows where it is and how to use it.