How to Use your Fireplace Safely this Year - ABC5 News Des Moines, IA

How to Use Your Fireplace Safely this Year

 By: Jason Rantala

@jarantala

Our cold temps mean more and more people are starting up fires in fireplaces, so it's important to make sure your chimneys are inspected.

The Des Moines Fire Department says there have been 18 documented chimney fires in Des Moines in the last five years.

Within the last month alone, there have been three fires involving chimneys.

For the most part, these fires are from people having excess creosote inside.

Des Moines Firefighters say you should have your chimney inspected at least once a year.

Before lighting your fireplace, make sure you have a poker and tongs and are avoiding the use of accelerant like fuel or gift wrap.

You should also prime your chimney before you use it this season. You can do this by first opening your dampener and lighting your fireplace with a good strong flame. Firefighters say it's important to watch your fire the entire time.

Priming prevents cold air from pushing smoke back into your home.

"By priming it, having a good initial flame, will allow that heat to rise all the way out of the house and that creates that vacuum and allows the air to move from inside the house and out the chimney," said Des Moines Fire Department spokesperson Brian O'Keefe.

When lighting your fireplace, make sure you use seasoned wood, like oak, hickory or elm that has been sitting out for at least six months. That way it both burns better and produces less smoke.

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