Did you know that most household fires occur during the winter in Canada? It makes sense as we cook more at home, use fireplaces to heat and those who smoke tend to do so indoors or under shelters more often. Believe it or not, cigarette butts in planters are one of the worst dangers to your home. The good thing is that most fires are completely preventable and here are a few great things you can do to make your home a safer, warmer and better place this winter.
If you rely on appliances like space heaters to heat a room, be sure there is nothing combustible near. Fire Prevention Canada recommends maintaining a 3 metre space around them. Base heaters or electrical panels can become fire hazards if they fail. Be sure to have them inspected and installed by professionals.
Due to a few reasons, the majority of chimney fires occur in wood burning fireplaces:
- Burning firewood that is not properly seasoned is a serious fire hazard. As a heat source, it isn’t very reliable and it also releases an intense amount of creosote that builds up against the walls of your chimney. Be certain your firewood has a moisture content rating of 20% or less. Naturally seasoned firewood should be inspected using a firewood moisture meter. If you own a place insert such as a BlazeKing, Drolet or a Regency with a catalytic converter, do your best to find Kiln dried firewood. It might cost a bit more per cord but you save a bundle in the long run. A catalytic converter heats your fireplace by burning the smoke from your logs. If logs are not properly seasoned, the moisture released during burning can damage the Catalytic Converter and these can be very expensive to replace. Kiln dried firewood has a consistent moisture content rating you can rely on.
- Teach your kids about fire safety! We all know fire isn’t a toy but do you children? Educate them about the dangers of fire and what to do during an emergency. Fire Prevention Canada offers some great fire safety activities for kids.
Fireplace Safety Tips
Fireplaces can become dangerous if they are not maintained properly. Over time, wood releases tar and creosote that builds up in your chimney and becomes very flammable. Be sure your fireplace and chimney are inspected and maintained by a professional every year.
Fireplace Quick Tips:
- Open dampers before lighting a fire and keep it open until the fireplace is cool to touch inside.
- Do not leave your home while a fire is burning.
- Do not burn plastic or other materials that aren’t firewood in your fireplace. Most building materials contain glues and other chemicals that can be a serious fire hazard.
- Open fireplaces must be covered by a CSA Approved protective screen. Be sure no combustible materials are within 3 meters of your fireplace and a fire extinguisher is available on every level of your home.
- Do not use charcoal or flammable liquids to start fires indoors.
- If you own an insert, do not use chimney cleaning logs. These only release creosote from the walls of your fireplace that falls down on the top of your insert and can become a serious fire hazard.
- Use a metal can to remove ashes and debris.