Cold winter nights are the perfect time to relax by a toasty fire. But before you light that first fire of the season, have your fireplace and chimney inspected, and make sure the area surrounding the fireplace is safe. Wood-burning and gas-burning fireplaces need yearly maintenance to make sure a friendly fire doesn't turn into a hostile blaze.
Here are some fire safety tips to keep you and your family safe:
- Do not use flammable liquids in a wood-burning stove or fireplace.
- Keep children, furniture and flammable items at least three feet away from the fire.
- Do not burn plastic items, which may give off toxic chemicals in the smoke.
- Keep a fire extinguisher handy, and learn how to use it.
- Create an evacuation plan so your family knows how to get out safely in case of a fire. Each family member should know two ways to escape in the event of a fire.
Follow these steps to keep your home safe, too:
- Use a safety screen or glass door in front of fireplaces and wood-burning stoves for protection from flying embers.
- Store ashes in a covered metal container away from the house before disposing in the garbage.
- Be sure the fire is completely out before leaving the room or going to bed.
- Install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms on every level of your home, including the basement. Test them monthly and replace batteries twice a year.
- Install an outside air vent or open a window to bring in enough fresh air.