Winter Fire Damage to Be Prepared for
A fireplace is one of the things most of us look forward to using when cold weather rolls around. They lend such a cozy ambiance to any home, no matter the size. We also will be pulling out the heavier blankets and space heaters and lighting the furnace for the first time in a while. Perhaps your home is even outfitted with an old-fashioned potbelly stove! All of these cold weather items can, if not properly cared for and used, can become a fire damage hazard. Here are some helpful suggestions to help keep your home and loved ones safe from winter fire damage:
- Have smoke and carbon monoxide alarms installed throughout the home and keep them in working order at all times.
- Ensure that materials such as carpet, drapes, and furniture are kept away from the fireplace, furnace, or space heaters while they are in use. All of these materials are combustible and must be watched carefully to avoid fire damage to your home. Use a firescreen to keep children and pets away from the fireplace flames and to make sure that sparks are not projected near anything that could catch fire.
- Never leave space heaters running when you are not in the room and don’t use them during the night while everyone is sleeping. If something goes wrong, you will want to be awake and alert. Never leave a child or a pet in a room with a space heater unattended.
- Check the cords and plugs for your space heaters thoroughly on a regular basis to make sure they are in good repair at all times.
- Keep the ash accumulation in your fireplace or potbelly stove under control, cleaning them out when the ash reaches the bottom of the grate. An accumulation can impede airflow and also make building a fire more difficult. When removing ash, it’s a good idea to wear a dust mask and gloves.
- A certified sweep in your area can inspect and clean your wood-burning fireplace and chimney; once a year or more can keep you and your family safe from fire damage and smoke damage. The Chimney Safety of America maintains a list of approximately 1500 chimney professionals that actively carry the Certified Chimney Sweep credentials, and they can be contacted in 49 of the 50 states.
- A good way to test the safety of your fireplace is by lighting a few small pieces of seasoned wood. If the smoke doesn’t exit up into the chimney but goes out into the room, immediately troubleshoot and correct any problems. These can include creosote or soot buildup, debris in the chimney such as bird or animal nests, a closed or partially closed damper, or even wood that is damp; all of which can pose serious fire hazards and risk fire damage and smoke damage.
- Make sure you burn only seasoned wood in your fireplace or potbelly stove. This should be wood that has been cut and dried under cover for 6 -12 months. Greenwood does not burn as thoroughly and creates more soot and creosote buildup, creating problems with your fireplace. Hardwoods, such as oak, ash, and maple are dense and heavy, delivering more heat than lighter softwoods, such as pine, poplar, and cedar; you should have no problems finding these woods from many area sources.
These simple tips can keep your home fire-safe all winter long. Remember to call SERVPRO of Huron & East Seneca Counties if you need any help with fire damage, water damage or mold cleanup around your home or office this winter season.