Fireplace and wood stove safety

Nothing is more inviting than a crackling fire on a cold night. To keep your family both safe and warm this winter, follow a few basic safety tips before you light your fireplace or wood stove.

  • Have your chimney cleaned twice a year, and inspect your flue vents regularly. To prevent creosote from building up in your chimney flue, don’t burn cardboard, trash or green wood. Instead, opt for well-seasoned logs and kindling.

  • Keep a Class A fire extinguisher on hand. Make sure smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are installed in the proper locations in your home, and test them regularly.

  • Don’t use gasoline, charcoal starter fluid or other flammable liquids to start your fire.

  • Teach your children to stay clear of a hot stove or burning fire. Never leave young children unattended when you’re operating your fireplace or wood stove.

  • Ashes can contain live coals, so let them cool completely in a metal container before you throw them out.

  • Store wood safely away from your wood-burning appliance to reduce fire risks. Check with your local fire department or wood stove manual for proper clearances.

Fireplace owners:

  • Open the damper before you light your fire, and keep it open until the fire has burnt out and the ashes are cool.

  • Use a screen to keep logs and embers inside your fireplace.

Wood stove owners:

  • Have your fire department, building inspector, stove retailer or chimney sweep ensure your stove meets WETT (Wood Energy Technology Transfer) safety guidelines.

  • Installing a new stove? Place it well away from walls, furniture, curtains and other combustible material, and make sure it has proper clearance, a floor pad and a ventilation system.

  • Check latches, hinges and gaskets regularly.

With these precautions in place, you’re ready to enjoy your fireplace or wood stove all winter long. Learn more about protecting your home with Home insurance from The Co-operators.