Creosote build-up, which is the result of incomplete combustion, is the leading cause of chimney fires. Burning green wood produces high quantities of creosote as well as some poorly designed wood-burning stoves. Creosote coats chimney flues, creating a serious fire hazard. The following are a few safety tips for woodstoves and fireplaces:
- Chimneys and heating equipment should be inspected by a professional before each heating season.
- Never burn paper or trash in a wood-burning stove. (Flaming bits of paper will rise with the smoke and can ignite creosote build-up or roofing materials).
- Always use a fireplace screen to prevent sparks from flying into the room.
- Allow ashes to cool completely before disposing of them.
- Store removed ashes in tightly covered metal containers, never in boxes, bags or plastic containers.
The second leading cause of heating-related fires is portable and stationary space heaters.
The following are safety tips to be used when heating your home:
- Keep all things that can burn (newspapers, cloth, furniture, etc.) at least three feet away from stoves, fireplaces, portable heaters, and space heaters.
- Never use a cooking appliance to heat your home.
- Plug cords only into outlets with sufficient capacity and never into an extension cord.
- Space heaters should always be turned off when you leave the room or when you go to bed.
- Have all fixed space heaters installed by a qualified heating professional.
- Never use or store LP-Gas tanks inside your home.
- Make sure that all built-in space heaters are properly vented to chimneys and that the chimneys are cleaned and inspected annually.
- Check the flues of your gas water-heater or furnace for corrosion and obstructions that could present fire hazards.
In many cases, you can actually prevent a fire just by reading and following the manufacturer's instructions. This is especially important when you are using a new heater for the first time.