February - Fireplace Safety
Winter is upon us, at least some days or weeks. There are many things that we do and more that we need to do to prepare for the few winter weeks that we do have.
As it appears, the impetus for using fireplaces has increased over the past few years due to fuel costs and the fact that many folks still like to see the calmness of a burning fireplace on a cold wintry night.
As in any facet of our lives, there are some things that we need to do to keep enjoying those cozy fireplace nights.
Following are some tips to remind us of how to remain safe while enjoying our fireplaces:
- Don't use gasoline to start a fire. Use paper, kindling, and dry wood.
- Use a screen to keep sparks from popping out of the fire.
- Make sure that the floor coverings and furniture are far enough away from the fireplace.
- Make sure that the flue is clean and open, and that the damper works. Open the damper before you start a fire.
- Don't use the fireplace as an incinerator for trash.
- Make sure the fire is out before you leave it alone or go to bed.
- Dispose of ashes in a metal bucket or metal container. Make sure that the coals are cool.
- Keep a 5 lb. fire extinguisher on hand. It should be a Type ABC. Train other members of your household on the proper use of it.
- Don't use water to extinguish a fire. It can crack the bricks in the hearth. Let the fire burn itself out.
- Have a chimney sweep inspect and clean your chimney at least once a year.
- Install smoke detectors and make sure that they work properly. Set up a program to check and change the batteries when necessary. A good example and one that we use in our home is that I check the batteries each time that the time changes, spring and fall. Normally the batteries only need to be changed once a year.
Safe Tips Using Artificial Logs:
- When burning artificial logs, use only one at a time. Artificial logs generate a lot of concentrated heat and some fireplaces aren't designed to hold that much heat. Also, most brands of artificial logs will burn for about three hours.
- As with wood or kindling, check the damper. If you have a question as to whether it is open or not, get a flashlight and check before you start the fire.
- Don't add wood or paper to the fire and don't put an artificial log on a wood fire.
- Always use a grate and a screen. Don't use artificial logs for open-flame cooking or barbequing.
- Keep an eye out for children around the fire.
- Close the damper only when the ashes are cool.
- Don't leave fires unattended
LUCK RUNS OUT - BUT SAFETY IS GOOD FOR LIFE!!
Ted Gordon is the Risk Management/Loss Control Manager for the Mississippi State University Extension Service and the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station. His office is located in the North Mississippi Research and Extension Center, in Verona, MS. His telephone number is 662-566-2201.