There is always a danger when wood is around fire. If left unattended, and if safety measures are not taken, there is a very real possibility of an accidental fire. This is something that is always in the minds of anyone that owns and operates a wood heater. As cosy and romantic as wood heaters are, here are some of the things you should do to keep enjoying the warmth without worry;
Declutter And Give It Space
One of the major causes of any wood stove related fire is clutter and lack of space. It usually starts with installing the stove in an improper manner; when you give it too little space. It spirals when other things are placed near, or in the way of the stove, and it is worse if these items are made of highly flammable material such as paper, or dry varnished wood. It is therefore advised that at the moment of installation, make sure you observe fire code regulations regarding space, and that the material beneath your stove is fire retardant. Install floor protection as an added measure, and make sure that there are no items placed within reach distance of the stove.
Be Fire Ready
It is always good to be prepared for any eventuality, especially when it comes to fire. The first line of defence should be installing smoke detectors in the room where the stove is installed. It is also a good idea to install them in other rooms of the house while at it. With smoke detectors, you must remember to keep changing the batteries after the recommended time to make sure you stay protected throughout. There are fewer things worse than knowing you could have prevented loss with a functional smoke alarm.
The second thing you should do is to have a fire extinguisher near the stove, as well as fire blanket. Keep it within easy reach and make sure that all the eligible family members are trained on how to handle and operate it. This is your second line of defence, since you can take care of any small flames before they become a problem. Remember, if you are unsure call the fire department to be just in case. This means that all the members of the household should have emergency numbers memorised and all the children should also know how to call in case of an accident.
Keep The Children And Pets Safe
Anyone who has ever had to spend time with children understands how easy it is for them to get hurt. They are hyperactive, and infinitely curious, which is a dangerous combination when dealing with a wood heater. This is why young children below the age of 10 should not be left unsupervised when the stove is on. They should also be taught in the dangers of fire and the possibility of them getting injured, as soon as they can understand. Additionally, you should also purchase safety gates and meshes for the stove and make sure they are secure. This will also protect your pets as well.
Follow The Stove Safety Guidelines
Most people disregard the safety guidelines that come with the stove, which is never a good sign. When it comes to the wood for instance, always make sure that you use wood that has been dried for at least six months. It burns more efficiently, and gives out better quality heat. It also smokes less and helps to keep creosote from forming; creosote increases the danger of a potential chimney fire. You should also make sure the flue is cleaned at least twice a year by a professional.
You should also never attempt to re-ignite the fire with any accelerant such as kerosene, petrol or other sort of flammable liquid. This has the potential for disastrous results. Avoid using wood that is chemically treated, or contains harmful elements such as paint and metal flakes. Avoid burning garbage in there as well. All these could cause toxic fumes to fill your house, causing health problems for you and your family. Keep cardboard away from the stove as well, which can burn at a higher temperature than recommended and damage the flue.
Use The Stove Safely
There are some people that get injured during the day to day operations of the stove, which is something that can be avoided. Open the stove door slowly when adding more wood, to limit the amount of smoke that rushes out. This will keep you from being choked and going into a coughing fit. Additionally, installing carbon monoxide detectors is recommended to make sure that the air quality remains safe. Carbon monoxide does not have any colour or smell, making it very hard to detect.
Keep in mind that ashes may contain tiny embers when removing them. These can burn your hand if improperly handled, and should always be removed using a metal tool such as a spade, or a can that has a lid. Ashes should only be disposed of when you are sure they are completely cooled. You should also never try to vacuum the ashes from the bottom of the stove after using it.