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Fire Safety Tips for Winter

Practicing Fire Safety Photo - Seattle WA - Pristine SweepsWinter is in full swing now, even in mild Seattle, and you’re likely using your fireplace regularly, if not daily.

As members of the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) we strive to educate our customers about fire safety. Since our start in 2008 we have made it our top priority at Pristine Sweeps to put our customers safety and comfort above all else and over the years we have even learned a thing or two because of our continued education through CSIA, but also through our experience. No matter how long you’ve had a fireplace, it’s never a bad time to review safety precautions or learn something new.

Treat fire as a danger.

Fire isn’t only dangerous because it is hot and can burn you. Fire also produces harmful byproducts like carbon monoxide that can cause illness and even death.

Teach everyone in your home consistent rules for the fireplace.

You won’t have to worry that someone else is being unsafe with your fireplace if you teach them how to operate it correctly and safely. Set boundaries for people in your home whom you don’t want operating your fireplace. This is important! This can be the one thing that keeps you from costly damage and even injury later (not to mention an insurance claim).

Use proper fuel only.

You should only burn proper fuel in your fireplace. Burning trash or clothes can mean sparks or flames flying out of the fireplace, or up the chimney, igniting debris in the flue. Burning improper fuel also increases the production of soot and creosote, which leads to creosote buildup. A creosote buildup is highly flammable and can also obstruct the airflow required for the chimney to work.

Build a proper fire.

Instead of the traditional fire with kindling on bottom, struggling to light the larger fuel on top, try the top-down burn. It is the opposite of everything you know about fire-building, with the larger logs at the bottom, then medium logs and sticks, with the kindling on top. This creates a cleaner burn because the fire, ashes, and coals fall, igniting the fuel below (bonus: less sparks fly from your fireplace as a result).

Remove wood ash.

Remove wood ash before it crowds your fireplace. If too much ash is allowed to build up in your fireplace it can make it difficult to feed your fire without wood, coals, and ashes falling onto the hearth or out of your stove door. Make sure you clean the fireplace or stove of ashes regularly, allowing for some to blanket the bottom to insulate your coals. Ash removal can be dangerous if you don’t have the proper tools which include a metal bucket and a long-handled shovel. Be sure you do not store hot ashes inside the house, as they can ignite for several hours after removed.

While you only use your fireplace for a few months out of the year, it’s important to remember fireplace safety year round. This includes child-proofing your fireplace and scheduling routine maintenance that keeps your fireplace and chimney in tip-top shape.

Schedule with Pristine Sweeps and worry less. There is always a chimney and fire expert waiting to talk to you.

By Aaron Woodward | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment

Child-Proofing Your Fireplace

Child-proofing your fireplace is more complicated than adding clips to your cupboards and gates to your stairs. The best way to keep your child safe around your fireplace this winter? Keep them away from it! However, you can only do that when you are with them to redirect and teach them.

Child-Proofing Your Fireplace Image - Seattle WA - Pristine SweepsThe Rules:

  1.  Your child should never be left alone with a fireplace, until is has been out of use for several hours. This is the most important rule for child safety during the burning months.
  2.  Your child should never be allowed to play near the fireplace, not even during summer months! Allowing your child to play on the hearth or near the fireplace when it’s out of use? Then he or she will not understand that it is an unsafe place to play.

Though these are important things to remember, there are definitely many other things you can do to child-proof your fireplace for the winter.

Fire-Proof Baby Gate

There are many great options on the market for baby-gates and play yards that attach to the walls on either side of your fireplace. These come in a variety of styles, colors, and materials. They can also be made to match your home decor and even your fireplace. These gates can be cumbersome when you carry wood to your hearth. So it’s a good idea to install one with an easy opening. However, if you have a gas fireplace, this is a great option and won’t be a hazard to the adults!

Fireplace Screens

Fireplace screens can match your hearth and fireplace and add another level of protection. They are designed to keep catch stray sparks from flying out and causing burns. However, a freestanding screen is not a great option for child-safety, because it can be pulled over onto the child, or the child can fall onto it, into the fire. You can still get a fireplace screen that works for your home. A certified chimney sweep can install a screen that attaches to the fireplace and is still beautiful and functional.

Custom Glass Doors

Glass doors can be a beautiful addition to any fireplace. They allow homeowners to control the heat from the fireplace and still allow the fire to burn. Glass doors heat quickly, though, and although they can protect your child from falling into the fireplace, the glass will still burn anyone who touches it.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors

When your fireplace is installed or serviced your certified chimney sweep will most likely mention carbon monoxide detectors. This is an important preventative measure to protect all the people in your home. Carbon monoxide is often called The Silent Killer because the symptoms of poisoning are so subtle that there is substantial damage to the body before the exposure is realized. The best way to protect your family is to install carbon monoxide detectors and to replace the batteries as needed.

Another way to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning as well as other breathing issues caused by particulate pollution from fires is to keep the chimney and fireplace clean. By scheduling regular chimney sweeps and inspections with a chimney expert you insure the fireplace is working at it’s most efficient, meaning that it is venting all the waste from the fire up the chimney and it doesn’t come into your home—and your child’s lungs.

At Pristine Sweeps the safety and comfort of our customers is our top priority. Contact Pristine Sweeps today to discuss child-proofing your fireplace. We have a technician that can help.

By Aaron Woodward | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment