It’s nearly time for sweaters, scarves and warm, roaring fires. Before lighting up your fireplace this winter, remember to have your chimney cleaned and inspected.
“Your chimney should be cleaned and inspected by a licensed, reputable service each year, which can help prevent fires,” said Kevin Bartal, safety coordinator for Virginia Farm Bureau. “Cleaning should include removal of all soot that has built up, any debris or nests that birds, squirrels and other animals may have built, and the inspection of chimney for cracks, which can cause fire to spread from the chimney to your home.”
Keep the area around the hearth free of debris, decorations and flammable materials. Remove any branches, leaves or debris from the roof or anywhere else that could block the chimney.
Use only seasoned, dry wood in fireplaces and wood-burning stoves. Never leave a fire unattended, and keep a fire extinguisher nearby in case of an emergency.
All firewood should be stacked at least 30 feet away from the home. Do not use gasoline or other liquid fuels to start a fire, and never burn trash in a fireplace or wood stove.
Now also is a good time to have your heating unit inspected. Having a reputable service company ensure that everything is working like it should is a safety precaution that also can save money on energy bills.
Additionally, check all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure they are functioning properly. Replace their batteries when changing clocks back to standard time, and check each detector on a monthly basis.
Smoke detectors should be replaced after about 10 years, Bartal said. Many local fire departments offer assistance with replacing and installing smoke detectors.
— Virginia Farm Bureau