Moving into a new home with a fireplace? Chances are good that the fireplace is one of the elements that made you choose your new house. If you grew up with a fireplace in the home then you probably can’t even imagine not having one. If you have always dreamed of having one then you likely can’t wait until the temperatures dip low enough to put it to use. Well, before you do, make sure you know how to keep your home safe while using one. Take a look at these 5 fireplace safety tips:

Have the Chimney Swept

Having your chimney swept is the most important thing you need to do. This must be done before you have your first fire unless you have documentation from the previous owner proving that it was done recently. Creosote builds up in your chimney and is highly combustible. You do not want a chimney fire! Plus, if the chimney is blocked then carbon monoxide poisoning becomes a concern.

Have a Fire Plan

If you have a family, it is vital that you have a fire escape plan. Everyone needs to know the plan, so that means having drills. If bedrooms are upstairs, buy fire ladders for every room in case the stairs are blocked. Make sure children know how to use the ladder.


A fire extinguisher should be kept somewhere near the fireplace. It doesn’t have to be proudly on display, but it should be easily accessible.

Safe Operation

  • Avoid roaring fires. Use the necessary amount of fuel to maintain the desired temperature.
  • Never use flammable liquids to start or rekindle a fire. The vapors can explode.
  • Don’t burn Christmas tree greens. They can create sparks and contribute to a chimney fire.
  • Be sure ashes are completely cool before you scoop and dispose of them. Pour ashes into a metal container just to be safe. You can actually save these ashes to use as fertilizer in your flowerbeds.
  • If using a newspaper as a kindle, remove the colored comics first. Colored ink contains lead, which can produce toxic gasses.
  • Keep drapes, curtains, and other flammable objects at a safe distance.
  • Use a safety screen, especially if you have kids and/or pets. Even if they stay away, their bouncing ball could end up in the fire.
  • Don’t burn wrapping paper from holiday presents. Wrappings ignite quickly and can cause a flash fire.
  • Check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors regularly.
  • Make sure matches and hot poking tools are kept out of reach.

Consider an Insert

You may want to consider transforming your fireplace into a safe, eco-friendly version. You probably already know that countless toxins are emitted into the air when the wood is burning. This can cause bronchitis, asthma attacks, and other respiratory illnesses, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency. You can clean your fireplace one final time, and then just use a bioethanol insert instead. This burns a clean fuel source that does not create smoke, toxins, or mess. You don’t need any ventilation, and they are easy to maintain. Of course, you still need to take safety precautions by having children and pets around a flame. Just something you might want to keep in mind for the future.