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Play it safe with fireplaces and woodstoves

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Mark DannehlThere’s nothing like snuggling up next to a warm and cozy fireplace when it’s cold outside—and it sure is cold outside right now! But don’t let this popular winter pastime lose its charm by becoming a safety risk. Unfortunately, the threat of winter fires is real.

  • About 25,000 fires start in the fireplace each year.
  • More than 900 people die in winter home fires each year.
  • Approximately $2 billion in property loss occurs from winter home fires.

Following a few precautionary measures will help to ensure the time around the hearth is enjoyable and safe.

  • Inspect and clean woodstove pipes and chimneys annually and check monthly for damage or obstructions.
  • Never burn trash, paper, or green wood.
  • Use a fireplace screen heavy enough to stop rolling logs and big enough to cover the entire opening of the fireplace to catch flying sparks.
  • Make sure the fire is completely out before leaving the house or going to bed.
  • Don’t overload the firebox. Generally, burning no more than three logs at a time is recommended.
  • Store cooled ashes in a tightly sealed metal container outside the home.

Source: National Fire Incident Reporting System

Mark Dannehl, Personal Insurance Consultant