How NOT To Burn The House Down..
from the Inside!
Wood Burning Safety Indoors
Welcome back! Now, once your sure that your heating unit is in perfect working order and clean for the upcoming season, there are other safety precautions to take around the stove or fireplace itself.
First of all, watch what you burn. Use only seasoned wood and kindling. Never use flammable liquid to start your fires, such as gasoline, lighter fluid or kerosene. Though it may be tempting, never burn wood that has been treated, plastics or other garbage. Not only can they emit poisonous fumes into your home and into the air outside, but they can cause corrosion in the heater, vent and chimneys. Watching what you burn can extend the life of all parts of your wood-burning system.
Make sure there is an adequate clearance of flammable materials around your stove or fireplace indoors. There must be floor protector under and all around your wood stove or fireplace. This is to ensure that hot ashes, sparks, and coals do not land on flammable flooring surfaces, such as wood, carpet or linoleum. Not only does the floor protector keep your floors from catching fire, but they also provide a stable base for a heavy woodstove. Nonflammable materials such as stone, brick, or even prefabricated floor protectors are available in many home improvement stores, but check your local codes before installing.
Remember not to clutter the area close to your wood stove or fireplace with magazines, newspapers, dry kindling or other combustible items. Backpacks wet from the rain can quickly dry and ignite, clothing hung over fire screens can also catch fire, for instance. Even Christmas stockings and garlands have caught fire when hung on the mantel over the fireplace.
Start educating children early about staying away from and playing around the stove or fireplace. Since very young children are extremely curious, the parent is responsible for making sure the area is blocked from them via enclosures made of wrought iron or glass inserts. When visiting homes without these enclosures, supervise young children at all times.
Part of educating older children in the safe use of wood-burning stoves and fireplaces is teaching them how to use fire extinguishers, and then have them around. Purchase UL-listed extinguishers that are the right type. Make sure the family knows where they are, that they are charged, and that they know how to use them.
A more recent safety device that is great for homes burning wood is a carbon monoxide detector. This measures the air inside the house and goes off if the carbon monoxide levels are too high. Use as the manufacturer recommends and at recommended intervals in your home.
Finally, an adequate number of working smoke detectors is essential. Many people test theirs every time they turn their clocks back or ahead. No home should be without them. Once your wood-burning system has been inspected, and safety concerns have been addressed and rectified, then you can look forward to a worry-free, cozy season of home-warming wood heat.
Courtesy of Yvette Smith, SRES® REALTOR®
WILLIAMSBURG REAL ESTATE