With the weather cooling off, you’re probably anticipating putting your wood-burning fireplace to good use. Before you do, be aware of common fire hazards so you can enjoy a warm blaze at the hearth without burning the house down. Then, check your home for other fire dangers.
Fire Dangers at the Hearth
There’s nothing like a roaring fire to warm you on a cold winter’s night. Watch out for hazards, though.
- Soot and ash: Clear the hearth of debris before lighting each fire. Then have your chimney cleaned regularly by a licensed professional since accumulated ash and soot in the chimney can create a fire hazard.
- Embers and sparks: A stray ember could land on the carpet or other combustible material and start a blaze. To prevent this, keep a metal mesh screen in front of the hearth at all times.
- Clutter: Even with a screen in place, embers can still escape when you move the screen to add wood or adjust the logs. Never keep flammable items around the fireplace, including blankets, pillows, paper and kindling.
- Too large of fires: Start small. You can always add to the fire if you want it to burn longer. Starting a large fire creates problems such as logs rolling off the grate, excessive smoke and fires that burn for too long.
- Unattended fires: Never leave or go to sleep with a fire still burning. Put it out if it doesn’t burn itself out by the time you want to leave.
Fire Dangers Around the Home
While the hearth is the only spot you intentionally start a fire, blazes can break out elsewhere do to other hazards.
- Faulty wiring: Electrical fires cause billions of dollars in property damage every year. Stay alert of signs you should have the wiring looked at, including scorched outlets, flickering lights and repeatedly tripping circuit breakers.
- Old appliances: Vintage coffeemakers and refrigerators may have romantic charm, but they’re more likely to have frayed or damaged cords. If you can’t part with your old appliances, have them rewired. Otherwise, opt for newer, UL-listed devices.
- Kitchen clutter: Cooking causes 41 percent of house fires, largely because pot holders, paper towels and recipe cards get too close to cooking surfaces. Stay safe by creating a 3-foot no-go zone between flammable objects and burners.
- Dryer lint: Even if you always remember to empty the lint screen before every batch, lint can still accumulate inside the dryer cabinet, which houses the heating element. To prevent a fire hazard, have your dryer blown out every two years.
- Candles: It’s hard to resist the romantic flicker of candlelight, but candles are a serious fire hazard. If you must light candles indoors, keep them away from flammable objects, never leave them unattended and place them on stable surfaces where they won’t be knocked over.
- Lit cigarettes: Smoking is bad for your health, but it could do even worse damage if you drop a lit cigarette onto something flammable. For your safety, never smoke in bed and dispose of cigarette butts in a large, sturdy ashtray.
- Matches or lighters accessible to children: Kids playing with fire start an average of 7,100 home fires per year. Matches and lighters are the most common ignition sources, so keep these out of reach. Teach children the importance of fire safety and supervise them whenever they use matches.
If a fire has damaged your home, don’t despair! Rainbow International® has the experience and personnel needed to restore your walls, floors and ceilings following a fire disaster. To have a professional take a look at your property, please contact Rainbow International without delay.