’Tis the season to curl up by the fireplace with a good book. It’s also the time of year that many houses catch on fire. The Health Alliance offers the following advice to keep you and your family safe this winter:
- Before even starting a fire, call a chimney sweep. Once a year, fireplaces need to be inspected and cleaned if necessary. This is especially important if the fireplace has not been used for some time.
- Your next step is to make sure there’s nothing flammable near the fireplace. Embers can shoot out of the fireplace and easily catch a stack of old magazines on fire. To prevent embers or sparks from jumping out—and possibly burning someone—keep a glass or metal screen in front of the fireplace.
- When starting the fire, do not use flammable liquids, such as kerosene, gasoline or oil, to start the fire. Don’t use charcoal indoors either. A match will usually do the trick. Don’t use excessive amounts of paper to build the fire. It is possible to create a fire so intense that it catches the chimney on fire.
- If you’re using packaged logs bought from a store, follow the directions carefully. Never break a synthetic log into pieces to quicken a fire and never use more than one log at a time.
- Before you leave your home or go to sleep, make sure the fire is out. Never close your damper with hot ashes in the fireplace. A closed damper can reheat the fire and force toxic carbon monoxide into the house.
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