We’ve now had some consistently frigid temperatures in Massachusetts. This probably means that your fireplace or wood stove is getting some heavy usage. Stay safe and reduce the risk of fire and injury with these Massachusetts fireplace and wood stove safety tips.
Massachusetts Fireplace and Wood Stove Safety Tips
1. Clean Your Chimney
Creosote builds up in your chimney and can catch fire. Cleaning your chimney will remove that build-up. This should be done at the beginning of every season. With heavy usage, it may need to be done even more frequently. There are also some creosote sweeping logs that may help in between cleanings.
2. Clean Your Fireplace/Wood Stove
In addition to cleaning your chimney, you should also clean your fireplace and wood stove regularly. Ash can build up over multiple uses. It can degrade the air quality and reduce the efficiency of your fireplace or wood stove. As an extra safety precaution, make sure that the ash is completely cool before disturbing it.
3. Burn Appropriate Types of Wood
The wood that you burn affects the quality of the air inside of your home. Only burn appropriate types of hard wood. Never burn any pressure treated wood or those with finishes (such as parts of old furniture). In an effort to save money, you may have the urge to burn any type of wood that you can get your hands on. The chemicals in the wood can actually produce toxic fumes.
4. Protect Your Children
Teach your children to stay away from fireplaces and wood stoves. Educate them on the dangers of fire. Be sure to also cover how far away they should keep themselves and their belongings from the fireplace or wood stove area.
5. Practice Safe Operation
There are several things you can do to safely operate your fireplace and wood stove. First, consider placing a screen in front of fireplaces. You should consider this for wood stoves too if the doors remain open. These screens are typically designed to catch sparks and floating kindling, thereby preventing them from landing on your furnishings and starting a fire. After operation, close doors and dampers tightly. This prevents air flow that may rekindle a fire.
6. Have Safety Equipment On-Hand
If you have any type of open flame inside of your home, it is important to have safety equipment on-hand. First and foremost, install smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors throughout your home. These offer valuable early warnings of fire and/or dangerous air quality. Secondly, have a fire extinguisher nearby. This will allow you to quickly address any unintended fires inside of your home.
With proper safety procedures and equipment, you can operate your fireplace and wood stoves safely this winter. Avoiding incidents of fire and injury (and resulting insurance claims) will help keep your Massachusetts homeowners insurance rates low. Additionally, make sure your insurance company is aware that you have a fireplace or wood stove in your home to begin with. This ensures that you will be properly covered.