There’s nothing more idyllic than the thought of spending time with your family eating mince pies and enjoying the festive season huddled to the warmth of a homely log fire.
Sadly, these celebrations can unexpectedly be interrupted by a chimney fire; putting not only your whole house at risk but your lives too. In fact, last year, over six thousand chimney fires were reported to the emergency services. Over 50% of those fires occurred between January to March, showing that the neglect of chimney care throughout the frosty season is a genuine cause for concern.
To avoid your household becoming another statistic, we’d like to give you a few do’s and don’ts on how you can keep your house and your family safe this winter.
DON’T: allow wood to burn or smoulder over long periods of time
It might seem obvious, but before you go or out or go to bed, double check that the fire is completely out, even if there’s a flickering little ember of coal, make it sure you extinguish all embers. If the fire is allowed to carry on burning it has the potential to reignite or catch on to a flammable material which could have disastrous effects.
DO: get your chimney inspected and swept
Having your chimney cleaned and inspected once or twice a year will put any seeds of doubt in your mind to rest. Professional companies (such as ourselves) will ensure that there is no blockage or debris in the chimney that can cause any harm; leaving you and your family to rest a little easier at night.
Nick Evans, the Head of Fire Prevention for a regional Fire and Rescue Service says “To keep you and your family safe from a fire you should make sure you have your chimney swept regularly. How often depends on the fuel you burn. The best time is just before the colder months set in, and you begin to use your fire frequently again.”
DON’T: burn unseasoned, green, or wet wood
Always make sure the wood you are using is dry and well seasoned (e.g. not rotting away). Allowing such wood to burn in your fire optimises the chance for your chimney to develop creosote: a chemical that nobody wants growing in their home. It’s relatively easy to be able to spot if you have unseasoned or wet logs, but if your fire begins to smoke and smoulder more than usual, double check the wood that you have and if it has any of the symptoms listed above, throw it away.
DO: check smoke alarms regularly
Checking your fire and carbon monoxide detectors is a fire safety test you can easily do yourself. We recommend doing so weekly if you can, otherwise, no less than monthly. This is the bare minimum that you can be doing to protect your family. If a fire did occur, you and your other family members would be alerted, giving you enough time to evacuate the house and to get to safety.
If you stick to these simple rules, then you’ll no doubt have a safe and merry Christmas. If you would like an inspection of your chimney, then look no further. Please call our London office on 0208 447 5689, or our Kent office on 01843 639 624 and one of our staff members will be happy to help you. Alternatively, you can fill out the contact form by clicking here.