Although it’s been pretty warm this week, winter is far from over. Chicago hasn’t entered spring quite yet, meaning that we are still going to need to keep our homes warm for a while. There are a ton of options for keeping your home warm—among them, using a fireplace. If this is your preferred means of warming your home, you’ll want to make sure you’re using it safely and responsibly. Follow these tips for fireplace safety.
Burn The Right Wood
Using hardwood or manufactured logs can help reduce your risk of a chimney fire. Hardwood and manufactured logs burn cleaner than other types of wood, meaning they help decrease the buildup of soot and creosote, which are huge contributing factors to chimney fires. However, understand that manufactured logs not only burn cleaner—they burn hotter. So you’ll want to take the necessary safety precautions to accommodate for the extra heat. For example, only burn one log at a time, and follow the directions on the bag for use. Also beware of burning anything other than wood in the fireplace. Throwing other things in the fire can cause toxic fumes that can be detrimental to your health.
Control the Fire
A roaring fire sure looks beautiful, but save these for the outdoors. Having a nice, controlled, small flame is the way to go in your fireplace. If your fire gets too hot, it can do damage to your chimney (an expense you do NOT want to incur if you can prevent it). Burn one log at a time (maybe two if the logs aren’t manufactured), and keep your eye on things. Keep children and pets far away from the fire, and have something to put the fire out nearby. Never leave a fire unattended, and make sure to keep the area around the fireplace clear.
Prepare the Fireplace
When you decide to burn a fire in your fireplace, make sure that the fireplace doors (should your fireplace have these) are open, and that you’re using screen over the fireplace. Open the damper before you light the fire, and keep it open until the fire is completely extinguished. Also consider opening a window. This helps ensure that there is enough oxygen for the fire to keep burning. Keep the mantel clear of any decorations while the fire is burning