As Winter Hangs On, Use Fireplaces Safely

Late winter blizzards, variable temperatures, and early spring windstorms have forced households in many parts of the country to use their fireplaces more and more. And when storms knock out power, the fireplace can also become the primary source of warmth.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, more than a third of Americans use fireplaces and other fuel-fired appliances as primary home heating sources, particularly in rural areas. Unfortunately, heating fires account for about one in three residential home fires in rural areas every year, often because of a buildup of creosote, a dark brown or black flammable tar deposited from wood smoke on the walls of a chimney, in chimneys and stovepipes.

Keep your fireplace a safe and warm place for your family with these tips:
• Have the chimney inspected and cleaned annually by a professional. Creosote and loose bricks can block chimneys, creating a risk not only of fire but carbon monoxide poisoning.
• Remember to open the flue on the fireplace before starting the fire and leave it open until the fire has completely stopped burning.
• Leave glass doors open while burning a wood fire and use a metal mesh screen to catch burning embers or shifting logs.
Never leave the fireplace or children unattended when using the fireplace, while the embers in a wood fireplace are still burning or for an hour after turning off a gas fireplace. Do you make the best use of those fireplace tools next to your fireplace? Watch this 3-minute U.S. Fire Administration video to learn how to use fireplace tools to reduce the risk of fire and burns.

Learn more about fireplaces safety at