As cooler weather drives us indoors, a fireplace sets a calm ambiance for gathering as a family to chat, read stories, and appreciate its glow. Of course, even though the fireplace invites tranquility, as parents and caregivers of small children, we all know that fire is dangerous. The following tips can help families prevent fireplace damage or injury by promoting safety.
Screens and gates
A fireplace screen or gate protects children and animals from getting near and touching the glass doors or fire. The glass on doors can get hot enough to cause serious burns and remains hot long after the fire is put out. If you don’t have doors on your fireplace, an infant or pet could get too close and be burned.
Dampers and flues
Be sure the damper or flue is open before starting a fire. Keeping the damper or flue open until the fire is out will draw smoke out of the house. Do not close the damper until the embers have completely stopped burning. The damper can be checked by looking up the chimney with a flashlight or mirror.
Make sure the area surrounding the fireplace is clear of anything that is potentially flammable (like furniture, drapes, newspapers, books, etc.). If these items get too close to the fireplace, they could catch fire from sparks.
Don’t burn gift wrap in the fireplace. Because of flammable material in gift wrap, a flash fire could occur when wrappings ignite and burn quickly.
Use dry and well-aged wood. Wet or green wood causes more smoke and contributes to soot buildup in the chimney. Dried wood burns with less smoke and burns more evenly. Smaller pieces of wood placed on a grate burn faster and produce less smoke.
Fire extinguishers and alarms
Always have a fire extinguisher on hand. Install both smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Test them monthly and change the batteries at least once a year. Also, the chimney should be checked annually by a professional.
Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended. Make sure it is completely out before going to bed or leaving the house. If you leave the room while the fire is burning or the fireplace is still hot, take your small children with you, so they are not in the room alone.
Communicate to children as early as possible about the dangers of fires and the heat that is generated by them. Keep children away from the fire salts, which produce colored flames. The heavy metals they contain can cause severe stomach and intestinal inflammation and vomiting if eaten.
These tips can help reduce potential disaster in your home. If you do experience fire damage, remember that the professionals of SunGlo Disaster Restoration Specialists are here to help with your clean-up and restoration.