Preventing fireplace accidents

Each year, many homes are damaged or destroyed due to improper fireplace use. To help you enjoy your fireplace and to help prevent accidents, Susan Helms, director of Injury Prevention and Safe Kids Mid-South at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, offers the following safety tips:

  • Whether you have a wood burning or gas fireplace, have your chimney inspected annually by a certified chimney specialist.
  •  Make sure the mantel and area around the hearth is clear of debris, decorations and combustible materials.
  • Keep an eye on young children when a fire is burning, and keep them away from fireplace tools. Consider installing a childproof fireplace gate.
  •  Never leave a fire unattended. Always put the fire out before leaving the house or going to bed.
  • Install a carbon monoxide detector in your home. Install smoke alarms on every floor of your house as well as inside and outside of all bedrooms.
  • If your wood-burning fireplace has glass doors, leave them open when burning a fire. This helps ensure that the fire receives enough air and prevents creosote, which is a gummy substance created during the burning process, from building up in the chimney.
  • When the glass doors are open, make sure the metal mesh screen is closed. This will help contain the embers.
  • Never start a fire with flammable liquids. Never burn trash, debris, cardboard boxes or wrapping paper.
  • Avoid using soft, moist wood, which accelerates the buildup of creosote. Use seasoned hardwood instead.
  • If you have an unvented gas fireplace, make sure you open at least one window for air circulation.

Information provided by the Memphis Fire Department, National Fire Protection Association and Safe Kids Worldwide


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