Gathering around the fireplace during colder months provides comfort for many Canadian families. With fireplaces and woodstoves, though they bring warmth they come with safety measures that we need to follow. We must think about chimney fires, building codes, smoke alarms, fire extinguishers and proper operating procedures. Here are some things to think about this heating season:
- The use of a gas fireplace has been a popular alternative to wood-burning fireplaces especially in newer homes. Gas fireplaces are easy to use; provide an instant fire at the turn of a switch, and produces heat quickly. But these fireplaces get hot very quickly and can be a danger around children. Fireplaces and woodstoves are the second leading cause of burns in children.
- Create a barrier around any fire place to keep children and pets a safe distance at all times.
- For gas fireplaces always make sure the flame is clear blue. If it’s yellow or orange, call a service professional.
- Avoid running your fireplace at the same time as other appliances that vent to the outside to avoid carbon monoxide build-up. This includes central vacuum systems, clothes dryers or the kitchen hood range. Running all of these appliances at once can overtax your venting system so that some carbon monoxide could leak into the home.
- Teach children about the danger of fire and never leave them alone near a fireplace or woodstove.
- Place cooled ashes in a mental container outdoors and away from anything that could burn. Only dispose of the ashes when they have completely cooled.
- Store paper, wood and other flammable materials away from the woodstove.
- Burn dry seasoned wood, which produces more heat and also prevents soot (creosote) build-up.
- Keep a fire extinguisher in a central location in the house. Make sure all family members know where it’s located.
- Place smoke detectors throughout the house and have one located in the same room as the woodstove. Make a habit to test regularly.
- It is recommended that you have your chimney checked/cleaned at least 2 times a year.
There is nothing cozier than a warm, bright fire on a chilly night as long as you are doing it right.