Every year, according to statistics from the NFPA, more than 12,000 Americans die in residential fires. Because of the risks associated with fires, it is important to take steps to prepare your fireplace for the fall and winter. Without taking the proper precautions, an accident can result in a devastating fire that could rob you of the things that are really precious to you, some of which could be irreplaceable.
The most important thing you can do, if you haven’t done so already, is schedule an appointment with a CSIA certified chimney sweep—say the pros at Coopertown Services—to have your chimney inspected and cleaned. The leading cause of fires in wood-burning appliances is creosote (unburned fuel) buildup in the chimney. Burning big, hot fires instead of small, smoky or wet ones will virtually eliminate the likelihood of creosote building up in your chimney, and scheduling an annual cleaning provides extra peace of mind that’ll help you sleep a little easier at night.
Correctly managing your wood-burning stove is another key. If your fireplace doesn’t already have either a screen or doors, you will definitely want to invest some money in getting that taken care of before you light your first fire of the season. This will prevent sparks from escaping and causing real damage. Many times, fires from wood-burning appliances start when the homeowners are either gone or asleep. To guard against this, homeowners should adjust the air intake vents before leaving the fireplace alone. Homeowners should also be mindful to never go to bed or leave the house until all embers in the fireplace have been extinguished. If no one can be present to watch the fire, it should be put out.
Keeping these brief fireplace safety precautions in mind will help ensure that you get the most out of your wood-burning experience. With the recent drop in temperatures, now is a great time to get your wood-burning fireplace ready for the fall and winter months; you never want to wait until it gets cold. I wish you a safe and happy wood-burning season for this year and for many years to come.