How to Use Your Fireplace Safely
Get ready for a cozy season with these tips.
Before you use your wood-burning fireplace this year, take the proper steps to get it ready.
If not well maintained, fireplace fires can get out of control and damage your property and/or cause personal injury. Help stay safe and cozy with these tips for preparing and using your fireplace.
Before You Start It Up
- Have the chimney inspected. Highly combustible creosote — formed from the smoke, wood particles, gas and other by-products of a fire — is the main cause of chimney fires. To avoid buildup, have a chimney professional inspect and clean your chimney every year, whether you have a wood-burning fireplace, a wood stove or a gas fireplace. Use the Chimney Safety Institute of America to find certified chimney sweeps in your area.
- Maintain the fireplace. Clean it in late summer or early fall to prepare for upcoming use. Scrub the walls, grate and andirons with a nylon brush, then sweep out any debris. Finish by wiping out the fireplace with water. Click here for more cleaning tips from our partners at Lowe’s.
- Clear the area. Keep any seasonal and home decor items, such as rugs, throw pillows or furniture, away from the fireplace. (Also check that your rugs are nonflammable.)
- Have a plan in place. It’s important to have a fire escape plan just in case anything goes wrong. Identify the exit routes nearest your fireplace and talk with your family about what to do in the event of a fire.
When in Use
- Burn the right wood — and only wood. Dry, well-seasoned wood burns clean and leaves behind less creosote. Never burn painted or treated wood; this could create potentially dangerous fumes.
- Safeguard against sparks. Use a fireplace screen to help prevent any sparks from leaving the fireplace and igniting your clothes or furniture.
- Keep a safe distance. Your clothing can ignite if you sit or stand too close to the fireplace. If you have young children, consider using a safety gate.
After you prep your fireplace, it’s also a good idea to make sure your fire extinguisher is in working order. Keep it in a spot where you can grab it quickly — just in case.
Click here to watch How to Choose and Use a Fire Extinguisher