Last month we offered some advice on inspecting and cleaning a wood burning fireplace. Now we will discuss how to use it safely. This is not just a reminder for fireplace owners. It’s good information, too, for someone renting a cabin for the holidays and hasn’t built a wood fire since being in the Boy or Girl Scouts.
Here are 6 important safety reminders:
1. Open the damper. Forgetting this first step is a rookie mistake. Only close it after the ashes are cold to the touch.
2. Burn seasoned wood. Sappy wood produces more smoke and creosote.
3. Start it hot. Building a large, hot fire at the beginning cleans out creosote.
4. Block the sparks. A fire screen and fire rug in front of the hearth reduces the risk of sparks flying into the room.
5. Move the flammables. The tinder and wood should be stored off to the side, set up the Christmas tree across the room, and move the stockings off of the mantle.
6. Watch it closely. Do not leave, or go to bed, while the fire is burning or the ashes are smoldering.