If you have a fireplace, you should have brick all around it, including on the wall behind it. You should also have screen shutters that are kept closed except when you are putting wood in the fireplace. The screen will keep things from falling out of the fireplace. You don't want things falling out of your fireplace because they could cause things near the fireplace to catch on fire. Never leave children unattended by a burning fireplace, wood stove, or a running space heater.
If you have a wood stove, you should have it on a brick platform. That way, when you put a log in the fire and a coal falls or "jumps" out, the bricks will provide a safe landing place. Also, you need to have the wall behind the wood stove covered with brick.
When you are starting a fire, never try to ignite a piece of kindling with a match while you are holding it outside of the stove. That is a very dangerous action. If you dropped the piece of kindling, it could burn you. It could also catch the rug on fire if it landed on the rug. Keep items that can burn at least three feet away from fireplaces, wood stoves, and space heaters.
If your chimney is not kept clean, you could have a chimney fire. You don't want this to happen. Always use dry wood in your fireplace or wood stove to prevent the buildup of creosote. You should have your parents hire a chimney sweep to inspect your family's chimney. Your chimney should be checked at least once a year. If you do have a chimney fire, follow these steps:
1. Call the fire department immediately.
2. Tell everyone in the house to get out quickly.
3. Close the appliance’s dampers and/or the primary air inlet controls, limiting the fire’s air supply and reducing its intensity. If there is a barometric damper in the chimney connector, plug or close the opening in the barometric damper.
4. Open the appliance door just enough to insert the nozzle of a ten pound dry chemical fire extinguisher rated for Class ABC fires. Empty your fire extinguisher into the appliance and shut the door.
5. If you can, wet down the roof and other outdoor things that could catch fire if hit by shooting sparks and flames.
6. Watch to make sure that no flammable surfaces near the chimney catch on fire. During severe chimney fires, these surfaces can become hot enough to ignite.
You will need to have your parents help you do these things. They will know more about it. Fires are very dangerous things so you should always have an adult help you when you are working with it.
Never leave matches or lighters laying around. A mouse might come and chew on the match and cause the match to ignite. It could cause a big fire. If you see younger children playing with matches or lighters, take them away and give them to an adult. If you see older children playing with matches or lighters, tell an adult. Matches and lighters are very dangerous. They can start big forest and house fires.
For fire safety, your house should be made of fire resistant, protective roofing and materials such as stone, brick, and metal. These materials don't burn, so your house will not burn if it is made with them. The inside of your house could still burn but not the outside. Avoid wood materials as they offer the least fire protection.
Cover all your outdoor vents with metal mesh screens no larger than six millimeters. You can also install insulated windows, tempered safety glass, or fireproof shutters to protect large windows from radiant heat. You can use fire resistant draperies for even more window protection.
For more information about fireplaces, wood stoves, and chimney fires, click here.
Photo in title graphic courtesy of ArtToday.
Graphic of Smokey and cubs courtesy of the US Forest Service.