Winter is on the way, so it will soon be cold enough to enjoy a fire in the fireplace. But before you do, make sure your chimney is clean and safe. A flue clogged with leaves, pine needles, and animal nests is a fire hazard, so taking the necessary steps to boost safety is essential. Here are five ways to help prevent a house fire.

1. Have the Chimney Inspected and Cleaned

The best way to prevent a chimney fire is to have your chimney inspected and cleaned by a professional at least once a year. A chimney sweep will remove built-up debris, such as leaves and creosote, which can easily ignite and cause a fire. While DIY chimney cleaning is possible, this job is messy and best for a professional. A pro will have the right tools and equipment to do the job safely and quickly.

2. Prevent a House Fire: Don’t Use Accelerants

Never use accelerants, such as gasoline or kerosene, to start a fire. Accelerants are extremely dangerous and may cause an uncontrollable blaze that could quickly spread to the rest of your home. Instead, learn to build a fire properly, using only seasoned hardwood logs and kindling to get the flames going.

3. Keep the Fireplace Screen Closed

It’s important to keep your fireplace screen closed so sparks from the fire don’t escape and land on your carpet or furniture. These hot embers could ignite draperies or a nearby rug and start a house fire. A screen is also useful for discouraging young children and curious pets from getting too close to the flames.

4. Prevent a House Fire: Don’t Burn Trash in the Fireplace

It might seem like an excellent way to get rid of your trash, but burning garbage in the fireplace is dangerous. Not only could this cause a chimney fire, but the toxic fumes produced by trash could harm your health. Burning trash may float up your chimney and ignite creosote or other debris. The burning embers could drift out of the flue and ignite nearby tree branches.

5. Don’t Leave the Fire Unattended

Have another adult supervise the flames if you have to leave the room while the fireplace is in use. Otherwise, extinguish the fire before you go. Always have a responsible person present while the fire is burning to prevent accidents that may happen while you’re away.

Taking the time to clean and inspect your chimney regularly is a great way to prevent a fire from occurring in your home. But there are other steps you can take, such as keeping the screen closed and not burning trash in your fireplace. Follow these tips to help keep your home safe while staying warm this winter.

Environmental Quality Inspection provides environmental testing services in Rhode Island and Southern Massachusetts. Contact us to schedule an appointment.