The Nichols Hills Fire Department wants you to begin thinking about fireplace safety early. Though it is warm right now it won’t be long until cold air is sweeping into our city. There’s nothing quite as cozy as a warm, crackling fire in the fireplace. But if you don’t take some simple safety precautions, that fire could turn deadly. More than 6,000 people end up in emergency rooms for injuries associated with fireplaces and fireplace equipment… and most occurred with children under five years old.
Approximately 14,000 house fires each year are started by fireplaces. Most of these fires escalated beyond the fireplace because of an overloaded fire, damage to the fireplace such as missing bricks, obstructed flues, ignition of nearby combustibles, and flying sparks.
Keep your family warm by following these fireplace safety tips:
· Inspect the fireplace. Check to see if the chimney is clear and in good repair.
· Have your chimney inspected annually.
· Keep the top of chimneys clear of tree limbs.
· Install a chimney cap to keep debris and animals out of the chimney.
· Always open the damper before lighting the fire and keep it open until the ashes are cool. This will avert the build up of poisonous gasses, such as carbon monoxide.
· Keep firewood to the rear of the fireplace on a supporting grate.
· Never use gasoline, charcoal lighter fluid or any other fuel to light or re-light a fire because vapors can explode.
· Do not use coal or charcoal in a fireplace because of the danger of carbon monoxide build up.
· Do not burn trash or gift wrap in the fireplace because polystyrene foam and other coated materials can generate deadly fumes.
· Do not poke artificial logs because the flaming wax could stick to the poker and drop onto the floor or carpet.
· Do not overload the fireplace. Large fires can lead to overheating of wall or roof materials.
· Always use a screen around the fireplace to keep sparks from flying out and to protect children and adults from accidental clothing ignition.
· At holiday time make sure the Christmas tree is not to close as to be ignited by a spark.
· Always make sure the fire is completely extinguished before going to bed for the night or when leaving the house.