Hazardous home conditions and a lack of awareness have made house fires and burns into the third most common cause of death in American homes, after falling and poisoning. More than 3,000 lives are lost every year due to accidental home fires. However, a little education and a few precautions around the house can prevent your family from ending up in a dangerous situation. Read on to learn how to stay safe when warming up your home.
Wood Stoves and Fireplaces:
1) Cleaner is safer. You can prevent potential house fires by keeping your wood burning stove and fireplace free of creosote accumulation, a type of chemical build-up that forms from burning wood. Hire a specialist to inspect and clean your chimney flue or stove pipe before every heating season.
2) Before starting a fire, make sure your firebox does not have any cracks or damaged sheet metal. With wood stoves, check to see that the door latch closes properly and that the joints and seams on the whole unit fit tightly together so that flames and heated gases cannot escape.
3) Make sure that your wood stove is situated away from rugs or carpeting on a non-flammable surface, such as brick, glass or ceramic. You can also purchase non-flammable stove boards to go under your stove so that your floor remains protected from hot coals and heat.
4) Do not use liquid fuel to light the fire in your wood stove. Instead, use a long cooking lighter that allows you to keep your hand a safe distance back from the fire.
5) Do not wear loose sleeves when loading logs or starting the fire. They can catch fire easily if they dangle into contact with a flame. Instead, wear short or tightly rolled up sleeves.
6) Prevent embers and sparks from escaping by using glass fire doors or a wire mesh screen inside your home and a chimney spark arrestor to prevent roof fires.
7) Avoid burning cedar and other woods that pop a lot. Instead, use thoroughly dried, seasoned hardwood.
8) Do not clean out ash or unburned wood from your fireplace until you are sure that there are no more embers or sparks in the firebox.
9) When you do remove the ash, be sure to throw it out in a metal bucket – not plastic – that is used solely for the purpose of ash storage.
10) Do not leave a lit fire unattended.
1) Do not work with fire when under the influence of alcohol, drugs or extreme fatigue.
2) Make sure your fire alarms, smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, electrical outlets and wires are all in good working order throughout your home, especially near your wood stove and fireplace.
3) Never store flammable liquids like gasoline or paint thinner near a potential source of ignition.
4) Consider installing a home sprinkler system that can detect and extinguish fire whether you are home or not.
The main thing to remember with home fire safety is to be alert at all times. Make sure everyone in your household is aware of the safe heating practices outlined above and also make sure your family has a clear and tested escape plan in case of fire emergencies.