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A fireplace can pose many dangers. Burning embers can pop out and ignite nearby furniture or rugs. Children or pets who unknowingly get too close can suffer severe burns. A dirty or blocked chimney can ignite or cause carbon monoxide to build up within your home.

By practicing some simple fireplace safety tips, you can enjoy your fireplace safely this winter.

Here are our top fireplace safety tips:

Only burn the fireplace’s intended fuel.

Burn properly seasoned firewood in a wood-burning fireplace. Don’t put other flammables, such as wrapping paper or cardboard, atop gas logs. Use pellets only in your pellet stoves. The wrong fuel in your fireplace can cause flare ups that are too hot for your chimney to handle. This leads to a dangerous chimney fire. Do not burn other items, such as colored paper, cardboard, plastics or charcoal. Consequently, these can fill your home with toxic fumes or carbon monoxide.

Create a “safe zone” around the fireplace.

One of the best ways to keep your fireplace safe is to establish a “safety zone” around it. Make sure any flammable objects, including furniture, books and décor, are kept at least two feet away from your fireplace. Also, beware of décor that hangs from the mantel. These can ignite if they get too close to the fireplace. Warn children about staying clear of the fireplace when it’s in use. Do you have small children or pets? You may want to consider a heart gate to keep them out of the “safety zone” and safe from burns.

Use a fireplace screen.

Fireplace screen help to keep embers from popping out of the fireplace. In addition, they can help to keep shifting logs in place. Is your fireplace not equipped with a built-in mesh curtain? Consider using a freestanding mesh screen to cover your fireplace opening. If you have ceramic or tempered glass doors, they can be closed while the fireplace is in use. This will keep the fire and embers safely within the firebox. Are your fireplace doors the type that aren’t meant to be closed while the fire is burning? Then remember, they should be fully open while the fireplace is in use. Otherwise, they can burst from the heat and pressure of the fire.

Safely clear away ashes.

The embers in your fireplace can burn hot enough to ignite for up to three days after you lit your fire. This makes it’s crucial to clear away fireplace waste safely. Once the ashes and embers have had adequate time to cool, use a metal fireplace shovel to scoop up ash. Afterwards, place it in a metal bucket with a tight-sealing lid. Never store an open container of ashes in a living space, as carbon monoxide can be emitted from smoldering embers. Once the ashes are completely cooled, they can be bagged and thrown in the garbage can or used as compost.

Have your fireplace cleaned and inspected.

Each year, before you light a fire, have your fireplace cleaned and inspected to make sure it is safe to use for the season. If you want to make sure your fireplace is safe this season, call A to Z to schedule a sweeping and inspection today!