As the weather cools, and the holiday season approaches, it is important to remember that fireplace fires can cause emergencies, and breathing wood smoke is bad for our lungs and our hearts. Follow these suggestions for a safer and healthier community.
1. Don’t burn trash. Don’t burn: plastics, chemicals, wrapping paper, magazines, or colored or coated papers (including newspaper inserts, junk mail, etc.). Also don’t burn charcoal, coal, or holiday greens.
2. Be a good neighbor and notice your smoke. Build small hot fires rather than large smoldering ones. Use seasoned hard woods that burn hot and provide complete combustion. Avoid “roaring” fires. They can start chimney fires and can lead to overheating of wall or roof materials.
3. Save your fireplace or woodstove for special occasions.
4. Use a gas log if you can.
5. Have your chimney inspected and cleaned regularly by a professional chimney sweep.
6. Never use gasoline, charcoal lighter or other fuel to light or relight a fire because the vapors can explode.
7. Do not allow small children near the fireplace.
8. Never leave a fire unattended. Make sure the fire is completely out before going to bed or leaving the house.
9. Be sure no flammable materials hang down from or decorate your mantel.
10. Make sure you have basic fire safety equipment. Keep a type ABC fire extinguisher near the fireplace, install a screen that completely covers the fireplace opening, equip your house with smoke detectors, and use a spark arrester on top of your chimney.