For many of us, sitting around the fire is synonymous with winter. After all, who doesn’t enjoy the relaxing sound of a crackling fire, the aroma of burning wood, and the cozy warmth that it emits? As New Englanders we understand completely. But, like many activities around your home, safety is essential. Whether you are operating a traditional open fire, wood burning stove, or a gas fireplace, all have similar considerations to help minimize risk while protecting your home for winters to come.
In this article, we are going to revisit fireplace safety, considerations when having a fire in your home, and how to make sure your home and family are protected. So let’s discuss the ins and outs of having a fireplace or wood burning stove in your home.
When it comes to having a fireplace or wood burning stove in your home there are three main risks and safety concerns. Namely: the fire hazards it presents, harm from woodsmoke, and finally pollution within your home from the combustion. Awareness of these risks along with a purposeful approach to managing a fireplace/wood burning stove can have you safely enjoying having a fire.
It goes without saying that having an open fire or operating a wood burning stove in your home presents a unique fire hazard. To begin with it is imperative to keep the area surrounding the fireplace/woodburning stove clear of all combustibles. Oftentimes combustibles may not be immediately apparent but can catch on fire as more heat is emitted. In addition to keeping the area around the fire clear, it is important to have your chimney and fireplace/wood burning stove inspected by a professional annually before burning to assure proper ventilation and avoid creosote and soot buildup.
When cleaning your fireplace and removing ash, remember it is important to place ash in a metal container with a lid and store outside at least 10 feet from your home. Embers from the fireplace can store significant amounts of heat for an extended period of time and if it comes into contact with other combustible materials can ignite.
Finally, it is worth investing in the correct equipment for managing a fire. Items like appropriate fireplace tools, firefighter gloves, an appropriate metal container with lid for ashes, and a fire extinguisher can have you well prepared to manage your fireplace.
It is important to have your chimney and fireplace/wood burning stove inspected by a professional annually before burning to assure proper ventilation and avoid creosote and soot buildup.
Smoke inhalation is another risk that having a fire within your home presents. As the fuel from a fire burns the combustion creates smoke, much of which can be harmful to your health if inhaled. Particles within the smoke can be irritating if inhaled and many of them are even too small for your lungs to appropriately filter out, which can lead to serious health risks. It is therefore imperative that your fire can appropriately vent out of the home. In addition, cracking a window or allowing additional airflow into the room can help reduce risks from smoke.
While it may seem obvious, it is important to note that only natural fuels, like firewood, or fuels specifically designed to be burned in a fireplace or wood burning stove should be used. This is an important rule to follow as burning other substances can have seriously harmful effects. Take for example a packaging box that you may want to throw on the fire. Unfortunately, this box may be made with plastics or sealed with plastic tape which will emit toxic fumes if burned. So keep your environment safe by only burning natural fuel or fuel designed for your fireplace and keep the area well ventilated at all times.
Safety For Small Children
It’s not just adults that find the warm crackle of fire appealing, small children do too. However, fireplaces and wood burning stoves can present a significant burn hazard to children (and pets too) as the surfaces can become scaldingly hot. When operating a fire in a home with small children it is important to use caution to prevent accidental injury.
Benefits of a Fireplace In Your Home
While there are risks associated with having a fireplace or wood burning stove in your home, there are a number of great benefits, particularly for those of us in New England. To begin with, a fire within the home can be a source of heat and warmth during cold winter days. Fireplaces can also add a cozy aesthetic to your home and even increase the resale value of your home. Finally, having a fireplace or wood burning stove can be a much more environmentally friendly option for heating your home. Most homes are heated with non-renewable fossil fuels. Having a fire in your home can reduce the amount of fossil fuels that are used to heat your home.
Deland Gibson Fireplace Safety Tips
Let us quickly review our safety tips for operating a fire within your home.
- Keep wood and other fuels/flammables at least 3 feet away.
- Chimney and fireplace/wood burning stove inspection annually.
- Only burn natural fuels or fuels designed for your fireplace.
- Never leave a fire unattended.
- Install and check that smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are working.
- Keep a fire extinguisher nearby and accessible.
- Keep small children and pets away from the fireplace.
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Deland, Gibson: A Trusted Choice, Five Star Accredited independent insurance agency. Established in Massachusetts in 1900, Deland, Gibson is a 4th generation family-run insurance agency that has thrived working as a trusted advisor for its client base. We work with individuals and businesses to lower their Total Cost of Risk. We analyze a client’s direct and indirect costs and implement risk reduction plans to address areas of business, hazard, or strategic risk.