Winter is around the corner and with heating costs expected to rise the State Fire Marshal’s Office wants to remind everyone about fireplace and chimney safety because more people may be burning wood this cold weather season. Fire officials in Yakima and around the state are just urging everyone to make sure that chimneys are ready for use. State officials say about half of all heating related fires happen in the months of December, January, and February.

Don't be a victim this winter

The leading cause of the fires? The failure to clean, mainly the creosote that builds up in the chimney. Creosote is the by-product of combustion left in your chimney walls and is highly combustible. Firefighters say if it builds up in quantities, "and the internal flue temperature of your chimney is high enough, the result could end up being a chimney fire."
A press release from the State Fire Marshal’s Office says "take some time now to prepare for the cooler weather ahead with a few tips to keep your fireplace running efficiently and safely:
·         Chimneys should be cleaned and inspected every other year by a qualified professional depending on the frequency of use.

·         Use only newspaper and kindling wood or fire starters to start a fire. Never use flammable liquids, such as lighter fluid, kerosene, gel or ethanol fuel, or gasoline.

·         Burn only dry, seasoned wood. This is cleaner for the environment and creates less creosote buildup in the chimney.

·         Keep flammable items, such as stacked wood, blankets, or other decorations, at least three feet away from the fireplace. This includes children and pets and anything hanging down from a hearth above.

·         Use a metal or glass screen in front of a fireplace to prevent embers or sparks from jumping out during use.

·         Put the fire out before you go to sleep or leave your home.

·         Put all burned ashes in a metal container with a lid, outside, at least three feet from your home.

Do you have a carbon monoxide monitor in your home?

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 150 people die on average per year from carbon monoxide poisoning related to the use of fireplaces when the chimney flue isn’t working correctly due to the malfunctions caused by the lack of maintenance.
Washington State Department of Health reported that in the years 2016-2020, there were 44 deaths attributed to carbon monoxide poisoning.

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