Knowing BEFORE prevents tragedy AFTER: Chimney Safety Institute of America offers tips for fire safety
• Keep chimney clear and capped. Make sure tree branches and leaves are at least 15 feet away from the top of the chimney. Contagious flames or sparks can jump from the fire source, quickly igniting other close objects, which can spread to neighboring premises. Installing a chimney cap can help prevent debris and animals from blocking the opening.
• Choose the right fuel. For burning firewood in wood stoves or fireplaces, choose well-seasoned wood that has been split for a minimum of six months to one year and stored in an elevated, covered location. Never burn Christmas trees, treated wood or wrapping paper in your fireplace or wood stove.
• Keep the hearth area clear and remove ashes. Combustible material too close to the fireplace or a wood stove, can easily catch fire. Be sure to keep furniture at least 36” away from the hearth. When you clean the fireplace, discard ashes in a closed metal container and place it away from the house until they have fully cooled.
• Install smoke detectors. Place detectors throughout the house and check batteries in the spring and fall. When you change your clocks for Daylight Savings Time, remember to check your batteries.
• Be on the safe side. Before using your fireplace, woodstove or furnace each season, the Chimney Safety of America recommends an inspection by a professional to ensure that your chimney’s interior has not suffered damage or significant creosote build-up that would allow heat or hazardous gases to invade your living space.
• Hire a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep®. When in doubt, ensure your home and family’s safety by hiring a chimney professional. CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeps® have earned the chimney and venting industry’s most respected credential by passing an intensive examination based on fire codes, clearances and standards for the construction and maintenance of chimney and venting systems. This knowledge allows them to expertly diagnose and solve chimney and venting problems.
source information: http://www.csia.org/