by Mark Tarses
Fireplaces are the Number One source of fires in houses that have fireplaces! Fortunately, all fireplace fires are preventable. Here are some things to remember when using your fireplace.
1. Never use your fireplace to burn trash, cardboard, or loose paper.
2. Never burn painted or varnished wood, plywood, pressure-treated wood,or particle board. These materials contain chemicals that give off toxic fumes when burned.
3. Never light a fire in a fireplace with flammable liquids like gasoline, charcoal lighter, etc. Start your fire with kindling wood or fire starters designed for use in a fireplace.
4. Never burn Christmas trees. The oil in evergreen trees can explode!
5. Always use a fire screen. Sparks flying out from a fireplace can set fire to your floors, carpets, furniture, etc.
6. Never leave small children unattended in a room with a fire going.
7. Keep flammables away from the fireplace. For example, don't store old newspapers next to the hearth.
8. Don't let the flames get too high. The flames should never be so high that they reach into the chimney.
9. Smoky fires are usually the result of improperly built fires, not defective fireplaces. Be sure the fire is far back in the fire box. Be sure you aren't burning green or freshly cut wood. Be sure the damper is open.
10. Clean out your ashes regularly. One strong draft, and your home could be covered with ashes. Never put hot ashes in your garbage can.
11. Keep a fire extinguisher near the fireplace - just in case.
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