It was during a school trip to an Army open day some years back that a mustachioed sergeant-major was tasked with telling a bored and fidgety class of kids the site’s emergency procedure. ‘In the event of a fire,’ he said, ‘run in the opposite direction.’
Pretty sound advice, and I hope that it makes absolute sense to you, as a responsible stove or fireplace owner. I felt that we had to get it out the way before we carry on to more involved safety practices. At no point should you ever run towards an out of control, raging fire.
Below are seven points to help you tighten up your fireplace safety measures in your house. It is always worth having practices in place which will help prevent any costly mistakes, which could ultimately end up with some very serious consequences. Whilst all appliances we sell are rigorously tested and stand up to the highest safety checks, even the best of us make mistakes and these precautions will help reduce the likelihood of such an event.
Keep a clean chimney
Burning incorrect, damp fuel and not sweeping your chimney regularly heavily increases the chances of a chimney fire. Creosote builds up in the chimney and can be highly flammable. There were 9,400 chimney fires in 2013, with that figure expected to continue to rise. Some insurance companies won’t pay out if there is no record of regular cleaning of the chimney. Find a HETAS approved chimney sweep here and read our blog post for more information on what wood to burn.
The sound of wood crackling and snapping as it burns is one of the joys of owning a fireplace, but it also mean sparks are flying. Protect your carpet or floorboards with a fireguard, which can be put in front of the fire to catch any debris. A fireguard is also a handy way of stopping pets and kids from wandering too close to the fire. However, it should be said that your child shouldn’t be left to its own devices in front of a burning fire in any situation (sorry – I’m being obvious again). We have dozens of new fireguards available on our website that will not obstruct your view of the fire.
Use a heat resistant glove
When opening the stove door to refuel, use heat resistant gloves to reduce the risk of burning your fingers. The metal parts get hot and when adding fuel some may find the heat quite intense.
Install and maintain smoke and carbon monoxide alarms
Despite this being completely necessary for houses with a fireplace or stove, some people don’t bother to check if theirs is working. Set a reminder in your calendar every week to test your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. It takes two seconds and they literally do save lives. Carbon monoxide in particular is a silent killer and you risk being poisoned without even knowing it.
Store hot ash in a dedicated caddie
If you realise your stove’s ash-pan needs to be emptied while it’s in use, we recommend you use a dedicated ash caddie. This caddie has a lid that prevents hot ash from billowing out and it also has a handle that allows you to carry it with your hands nowhere near the hot ash. Never store hot ashes in plastic bins, bags or buckets and keep it away from dry wood or grass. Ash can stay hot for up to four days.
Do not over-fire your stove
Putting too much fuel into your stove creates more heat which risks cracking your ceramic glass, firebricks, warping the metal parts and cause irreparable damage. A common way a stove is over-fired is by leaving the independent ash-pan air supply open, or the door left ajar.
Understand your stove
Sounds pretty obvious (again, sorry) but it is well worth taking some time to learn your stove. Understand how it works and read the user manual. If you don’t completely understand your stove, you run the risk of harming yourself, damaging your house, or not using the stove to the best of its efficiency due to your inexperience.