The holiday season is known for exciting festivities and cozy nights indoors with friends and family, but it’s known for something not so merry, as well – house fires. Many don’t realize that residential fires actually tend to peak this time of year, due to increased fireplace usage, the addition of live Christmas trees in your space, and all that holiday cooking.
Needless to say, if you have a fireplace you put to use this time of year, fire safety should be at the top of your list!
Fortunately, there are ways to avoid a tragedy this holiday season. Check out some of our fire safety tips, and be sure to reach out with questions or to schedule necessary maintenance. We’re here for you!
Schedule an Inspection
First things first, make sure you are always getting chimney inspections completed every single year. Annual inspections play a vital role in ensuring your system is safe for use every burning season, and they also give the sweep the chance to spot issues that may be affecting efficiency.
If you have yet to get an inspection booked this year, we strongly suggest getting it done before lighting up your fireplace this holiday season. If you have cracks, holes, or excess creosote buildup, you could be prone to chimney fires, house fires, or harmful fumes entering your home.
It’s not worth taking any chances – schedule your next inspection with us today!
Only Burn Seasoned Wood
If you own a wood-burning fireplace, it can be tempting to throw trash, wrapping paper, cardboard boxes, and other odds and ends into the fireplace for quick and easy clean-up. That said, nothing other than properly seasoned wood should be burned in your fireplace!
Why? Well, many of these items release toxic fumes when burned that aren’t good for your household or your chimney. Along with this, unseasoned wood will release acidic vapors in your chimney that break things down and encourage creosote accumulation. Finally, your fires will become super smokey and unproductive, which isn’t ideal when trying to create that cozy aesthetic in your living space.
For safer, more efficient fires, only burning wood that has been properly dried out for at least 6 months. Signs of well-seasoned wood include: ends that are darkened & split, being fairly lightweight, a clear “clunking” noise when smacked against another piece, and smelling musty or not fresh.
If buying wood for an outside source, using a moisture meter may be your best option, as even wood that appears fine for use may be deceiving.
One final important reminder: Never attempt burning your Christmas tree in your fireplace! Your system is in no way designed for this, and it could put your home and family at serious risk. There are multiple ways to properly dispose of a tree, such as dropping it at a local recycling center, leaving it for curbside collection (if applicable in your area), or even tossing it in a nearby lake or pond to enhance the living environment for the fish.
Check on Your Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Detectors
It’s easy to put these devices out of your mind, but they should be regularly checked to ensure their batteries are working, especially this time of year when fireplaces tend to experience more use. This is a simple step that could literally save lives in the event of an emergency! Should a fire start when everyone is asleep, smoke detectors are often the only warning signs available to wake people up and ensure they get to safety.
And since carbon monoxide is both odorless and colorless, a detector is usually the only way someone will be made aware of its presence, as well.
Some good rules to follow include:
- Test your detectors once per month to ensure the batteries are working.
- Replace your smoke/carbon monoxide detectors every 10 years.
- Connect your devices, so that if one goes off, they all go off.
- Install detectors on every level of your home and outside of all bedrooms.
- Develop an escape plan should your alarms go off, so everyone knows the quickest route (as well as alternative routes, if necessary) out of the home.
Be Cautious With Decor
If you like decorating your mantel and fireplace exterior with holiday stockings, garland, and the like, be sure that you are removing any flammable items before lighting a fire, and make sure your flames are completely out and your system is cool before putting any of these items back in place.
Along these same lines, keep your Christmas and any presents a safe distance away from the fireplace. And if your tree is a live one, be sure to keep it watered! The more it dries out, the easier it could catch on fire – and a dry tree goes up in flames fast.
Don’t Put Off Necessary Maintenance
If your sweep has recommended you invest in a sweeping or in some repair work, don’t put it off. On this same note, don’t light fires until these services have been completed, as doing so could invite some dangerous scenarios.
Whether you need harmful creosote removed, some masonry repairs completed, new chimney components installed, or something else, the team at The Chimney Doctor is here to help.
Give Us a Call Today
Like we said, don’t wait to get the care you deserve. Give our crew a call at 970-234-3330 now to ensure your system is all set and ready for use this holiday season. We look forward to speaking with you soon!