Many Kimberley residents heat with wood in the winter months. The Kimberley Fire Department urges you to have your chimney cleaned and inspected before you begin using it each year. Black Press photo

Many Kimberley residents heat with wood in the winter months. The Kimberley Fire Department urges you to have your chimney cleaned and inspected before you begin using it each year. Black Press photo

Kimberley Fire Department urges you to practice woodstove and fireplace safety this winter

The colder weather has arrived and the smell of woodsmoke is in the air. Many homes in Kimberley heat with a home wood stove, and the City of Kimberley Fire Department reminds you that you should be making sure your chimney is in good shape before you start burning to heat your home.

In a press release, Fire Chief Rick Prasad said the chimneys accumulate creosote, a combustible by-product of charred wood. Combine it with high flue temperatures, and you could have a dangerous chimney fire on your hands.

He urges homeowners to hire a professional chimney sweep to clean and inspect for cracks and damage before you start burning.

He offers the following safety principles to follow for fireplaces and wood stoves.

• Keep the area in front of the fireplace clear of combustible items like paper or decorations. During the holidays we all have a tendency to decorate near the fireplace, so be careful and keep these materials at a safe distance.

• Keep woodstove doors closed while burning and use a glass door or a wire mesh screen on a fireplace.

• Use seasoned wood that has been split for six months to a year. “Green” wood creates more creosote.

• Do no throw wrapping paper, boxes, or trash into the fireplace or woodstove.

• Keep the area near the chimney clear. If you have trees that hang over the house near the chimney, make sure branches and leaves are at least 15 feet away.

• Cap your chimney. A top that has wire mesh along the sides will keep out rain and snow, birds, and other critters that might be running around on the roof.

• Think small. If you try to burn too much wood, the chimney can crack and you run the risk of creosote build-up. Burn wood on a grate placed near the back of the fireplace.

Now is also the time to make sure your carbon monoxide detectors are functioning properly.

Like fire, carbon monoxide can be a deadly threat. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, invisible, toxic gas that kills about 300 Canadians per year and sickens many more.

While carbon monoxide poisoning can result from poorly functioning home appliances and heating systems, it can also come from poorly maintained chimneys. The chimney and chimney connector serve as a furnace’s exhaust system. If debris is blocking the chimney, carbon monoxide can accumulate inside the house.

Perhaps the most important rule of all when it comes to fall chimney maintenance is to install and maintain smoke and carbon monoxide detectors inside and outside of bedrooms. Replace the batteries each season and test the detectors regularly. If the detector is more than 10 years old, replace it.