Growing up, my family home had a fireplace. Even though my current home doesn’t have one, and sometimes I miss it with these crazy polar vortex temperatures hitting the New York area, I don’t miss the hazards.

Fireplace Safety Tips

Fireplace precautions (for the polar vortex temperatures)

Nothing is one hundred percent safe, even if you follow every safety tip in the world. However, the following precautions will help ensure safety when using your fireplace during colder temperatures.

Keep chimneys and wood stoves clean

  • Have your chimney cleaned
  • Keep the area around your fireplace, or stove, clear of clutter and debris. Decorations are nice, but make sure they are far enough away so as not to start a fire.
  • Be sure you have your fireplace, wood stove, or pellet stove inspected once a year. There are licensed specialists for this.
  • Properly vent and operate your wood burning, or pellet stove by following the MANUFACTURER’S instructions.

Burn fires safely

  • Don’t light a fire until you have DOUBLE CHECKED your flue is open.
  • Light your fire, INSIDE YOUR HOUSE, without using ANY FLAMMABLE liquids. Stick to matches.
  • If you have glass doors on your fireplace, keep those open. It’ll help reduce build-up in your chimney, and it’ll give the fire the air it needs to stay burning.
  • ALWAYS keep the metal mesh CLOSED. You don’t want those open. Closed screens means more embers will STAY in the fireplace, instead of in your house.
  • Creosote builds up in the chimney no matter what, but to help lessen the build-up, burn dry wood instead of damp wood.
  • Only burn wood, never plastic. Plastic has chemicals in it. Beyond the harm it can do to your chimney, fireplace and wood stove, it’s not good to breathe those toxic chemicals!
  • Always tend the fire. NEVER leave the house until you’ve made sure the fire is completely out. Do NOT go to bed until you’re one hundred percent sure the fire is extinguished.
  • Ashes need to cool before throwing them out. Have a designated METAL reciprocal for ashes that’s FAR from your home.

Important house and chimney safety tips

  • Your woodpile should be kept away from the house, because of bugs/termites.
  • Always make sure your roof doesn’t have leaves and other stuff piled up near the chimney.
  • Definitely put a chimney cap with a spark arrester on your chimney. It’ll keep debris, leaves and small animals out. Plus, it helps contain burning embers from escaping and causing a fire.
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors, as well as smoke detectors.
  • CHECK the installed carbon monoxide and smoke detectors regularly, not just when you "adjust clocks" for daylight savings, etc. Instead, do it each month, when you pay your mortgage!

A great idea: when you get your chimney and fireplace inspected each year, also call your trusted Tango, Tango & Tango insurance professionals to go over your homeowners insurance policy, just to be safe!

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