Perhaps no place in your home says “the holidays” more than the fireplace. It’s the place you gather as a family to reunite and share stories. It’s where you gather to open presents, surely delivered down the chimney by a jolly old man in red. And it’s the place of many future memories to be spent this time of year – which is why we’d like to see you remember the importance of fireplace safety and do not utter any of these eight misconceptions about fireplaces that pose a great risk to your family’s safety and health.
“Any Kind of Wood Is Fine. Throw It In There.”
Not so fast. If yours is like most fireplaces and of the wood-burning variety, there’s a specific type of wood you need to buy – the kind that has been dried for at least eight months. It tends to burn more evenly without a great deal of smoke building up in the chimney. On the other hand, wet or green wood can cause a lot more smoke buildup, creating an increased level of soot in the chimney.
“It’s A Gas Fireplace. It’s Harmless.”
A gas fireplace may not have a plethora of challenges to it, but if you forget to do a few steps in the name of safety, the consequences could be deadly. Some of these will sound familiar to you if you have a gas grill. As you ignite the fire, look for clogged holes in the burner. If you suspect some holes are clogged, turn off the burner and poke through the clogged areas using a pin or needle.
After using the fireplace, turn it off at the shut-off valve. Speaking of which, little hands of curious children can unexpectedly turn a gas fireplace on, so cover that switch if at all possible for fireplace safety purposes.
“The Chimney Isn’t Due For A Cleaning. It Can Probably Wait Another Year Anyway.”
You haven’t used your fireplace all that much, so what do you need a chimney cleaning for? Because it doesn’t take all that much to prevent smoke from escaping and forcing it back down the chimney. An animal nest or another type of blockage cause a big obstruction in a hurry. Get the chimney cleaning done for your peace of mind.
“Sure, It’s Got Some Ash From The Last Fire. I’ll Take Care Of It After This One.”
You’ve actually said that a few times before. Now the ash is over an inch thick, creating a greater likelihood that more smoke will result. Clean out the ash from your fire every time to avoid smoke covering the room unexpectedly.
“I’m Going To Close The Damper. The Fire’s Almost Out.”
It’s critical that you keep the damper or flue open prior to starting your fire and until the fire is completely stopped so that smoke is drawn out of the house. Close the damper too soon and you risk an issue with smoke getting trapped and dangerously building up in the fireplace. A quick and easy way to check the damper is by using a flashlight to look up the chimney.
“Throw Those Old Papers Next To The Fireplace. I’ll Take Them Out For Recycling Later.”
You can see where this is going, right? Yet, all too often, people put newspapers, books and other paper items too close to the fireplace when they think it’s more than enough distance away. If this includes you, you’re forgetting about one thing – you’ve seen a fireplace throw sparks enough times that you know it’s not impossible for one spark to land on paper nearby. What’s your living room going to look like if you step away for five minutes?
“Let’s Go To Bed. This Fire Will Burn Out Soon.”
Are you sure about that? Don’t leave the room until the fire is 100% out. There’s a host of reasons why you don’t want a flame burning away without your supervision, not the least of them being that a small child could put their hands on the hot glass and burn themselves or play with tools and matches and hurt themselves badly that way.
“We Need To Change The Batteries In This Smoke Detector Sometime.”
The problem with “sometime” when it comes to smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors is that it gets forgotten about. Then they don’t get tested on a monthly basis and the batteries don’t get changed on at least an annual basis. And that fire extinguisher on the shopping list doesn’t get purchased during your errands as it should. All of which puts your family’s safety at risk.
How long does it take to buy a new detector or change a battery? Don’t put it off. Take care of it now before the next time you use the fireplace.
When you and your co-workers have training on CPR and first aid from SOS Technologies, you’re taking charge of your family’s safety in the most proactive way. Should someone experience smoke inhalation, burns or cuts as the result of being near the fireplace, you’ll be fully prepared with the know-how to act swiftly and purposefully. And that can go a long way toward saving the holiday season for everyone. To schedule your team’s CPR and first aid training session from one of our safety consultants to maximize fireplace safety, contact SOS today at 888.705.6100.