Top Five Fireplace Safety Tips for the Winter

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Make fireplace safety a priority this winter with helpful guidelines from All Home Security.

As many as one-third of Americans will use or enjoy a fireplace this winter. Consumers can help protect their homes and families by focusing on the following fireplace safety tips from All Home Security, a leading online resource for the best in home security and safety.

Yearly fireplace maintenance is crucial. Gas and wood-burning fireplaces both require yearly maintenance in order to work effectively. Chimneys should be inspected and cleared each year by a certified specialist. Burners and controls for gas fireplaces should be vacuumed and brushed at least once a year. Check smoke and fire alarms often to ensure they are working properly. Batteries should be replaced each year.

Keep the fire under control. Small fires produce less smoke and are less likely to become unmanageable. Fireplace covers can also play an important role in preventing catastrophe. Look for tight-fitting screens that prevent embers from escaping the hearth. Hearths should also be kept clear of any debris or flammable items.

Monitor carbon monoxide (CO). Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless and tasteless poison produced whenever gas, oil or wood is burned. CO is controlled by proper maintenance and ventilation of fuel burning appliances. Carbon monoxide monitors should also be used in any home that has a fireplace. Consider a home security system that includes CO detection.

Enable proper ventilation. Air is vital for fireplaces to function properly and for preventing CO build up. Never cut off the air supply to the flame. Make sure that necessary vents and dampers are open, and do not shut the flue until the fire is almost out. Leaving a window open a few inches can also help circulate fresh air and prevent back drafts.

Burn only approved materials. Hardwood fireplaces should only burn seasoned woods like oak, ash, or maple. Lighter fluids, flammable liquids, cardboard and trash should never be used to start a fire.
Perform outdoor inspections often. A clogged chimney, cracked masonry or a blocked vent can greatly increase the chance of fire or carbon monoxide poisoning. Periodic outdoor inspections for low-hanging branches or other debris should be performed throughout the winter. Chimney screen caps can also be used to discourage nesting birds.

Above all, always use caution. Fireplaces should never be left unattended. For additional home security information, visit http://www.allhomesecurity.com/.

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Alek Peterson

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