Fireplace and Home Fire Safety
Enjoy your fireplace this winter and stay safe by following these tips:
Keep It Clean and Install Smoke Alarms
- Have a certified chimney specialist inspect and clean your chimney or wood stove once a year.
- Keep the area around your fireplace or stove free of clutter, decorations and flammable materials.
- Consider installing the new long life smoke alarms. Put smoke alarms on every level of your home, both in and outside sleeping areas. Test them every month. Change the batteries at least once a year.
- If your fireplace has glass doors with a metal mesh screen, close the screen when the glass doors are open. The screen helps keep embers in the fireplace, where they belong.
- No glass doors? Always use a metal mesh screen to prevent embers from escaping the hearth.
- Keep glass doors open when you have a fire burning. The open doors prevent creosote build up and ensure materials are completely burned.
- Once a fire is out, close glass doors to keep cold outside air from getting inside.
- Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended- Extinguish the fire before going to bed or leaving the house.
- If you are installing a new wood stove, have it installed by a professional and be sure to get a fire safety inspection before using it.
- Follow instructions to keep the wood stove a safe distance from surrounding materials.
- Keep air inlets on wood stoves open to prevent creosote buildup that can lead to a chimney fire.
- Monitor flue temperatures by installing stovepipe thermometers.
- Put hot and cold ashes in a metal container outside and away from your home:
- NEVER put ashes in a paper, cardboard or plastic container.
- NEVER leave ashes inside the house or garage.
- If you can, leave ashes for at least 24 hours in the fireplace or wood stove before moving them outside.
Burn Fuels Safely
- Never use flammable liquids to start a fire.
- Use seasoned hardwood. Soft, moist wood accelerates creosote buildup.
- Build small fires that burn completely and produce less smoke.
- Never burn cardboard boxes, trash or debris in your fireplace or wood stove.
Outdoor Fire Safety
- Use a mesh screen spark arrester to cover your chimney
- Remove branches hanging above your chimney, near flues or vents.
- Stack firewood outdoors at least 30 feet from your home.
For additional information on fireplace and home fire safety, visit the United States Fire Administration website.