How-To Videos

10 Do’s and Don’ts to Keep Your Wood-Burning Fireplace Safe

By: Thomas Boni

Light a fire for warmth and ambiance, but follow these tips to stay safe.

With people trying to stay warm in frigid temperatures, it’s no surprise that incidents of fire-related injury and damage increase during winter months.

But you don’t have to shy away from using your fireplace! Just follow Danny’s advice and safety tips.

How do you prepare a fireplace?

• Clear out old ashes and debris from the firebox before use.
• Make sure the chimney flue is open before starting a fire.
• Make sure you have dry, seasoned wood on hand
• Use a mesh screen or other fire screen to prevent embers from igniting nearby carpet or furnishings.

What are some fireplace don’ts?

• Don’t burn wet wood (it causes excess smoke)
• Don’t burn painted, stained or treated wood or manufactured wood such as plywood and particle board (it can produce toxic fumes)
• Don’t burn colored paper or cardboard (these contain chemicals that can produce toxic fumes)
• Don’t burn plastics or chemicals (they’re toxic)
• Don’t use accelerants (gas, kerosene or lighter fluid) — they can cause flare-ups
• Don’t use coal or charcoal in your fireplace (these burn much hotter than wood — too hot for your chimney — and can produce larger levels of carbon monoxide

Do you recommend any special equipment to have on hand for fire safety?

If you have a fireplace, you definitely need to have these three things in your home:
Fire Extinguisher: 1 for every 600 square feet of living space
Smoke Detector: Since smoke rises, smoke detectors should be installed high up on walls or on the ceiling on every level of the home and in or near bedrooms. If yours is more than 10 years old, it’s time for a new one.
Carbon Monoxide Detector: Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that is a by-product of combustion from both wood-burning and gas-burning fireplaces. You need one on every level of the home as well as in or near all sleeping areas.


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10 Do’s and Don’ts to Keep Your Wood-Burning Fireplace Safe