Have your chimneys inspected annually and swept if needed. If the chimney (fireplace & furnace/water heater/flue) is clean and free of obstructions, there is less danger of a chimney fire or carbon monoxide poisoning.
Make sure that the top of the chimney is free and clear of tree branches, ivy, or overhanging branches. Keep all furniture and combustible furnishings at least 36 inches away from the fireplace or wood stove. Exposure to heat can lower the ignition
temperature of combustible items over time, and they can catch fire.
Have a chimney cap installed on all of the flues. New chimney caps are usually constructed of stainless steel and do not rust. They keep out rain, birds,raccoons, squirrels, leaves and other debris that could obstruct the flow of flue gasses in your chimney.
Well seasoned hard wood yields the most Btu’s (heat) for your fireplace or wood stove. Never burn colored paper such as magazines or wrapping paper. Don’t burn plastics; never burn painted, stained or treated wood – the fumes are poisonous. Don’t use your fireplace as an incinerator to burn pizza boxes, Christmas trees or stacks of paper or cardboard.
Some of the newer units will detect both smoke and carbon monoxide, but both types should be installed through out the home. Optimum placement is on the ceiling because that is where the smoke and carbon monoxide will be. Plug in units are convenient but near the floor is not ideal.
Have a fireplace screen or set of glass doors with a screen in front of your fireplace during operation. Flying sparks from sappy wood can burn holes in your carpet or furniture. Remember, if you have glass doors, they must
be open during the operation of your fireplace, do not close them if a fire is
burning. The glass is not rated for those temperatures and the fire will be starved
for oxygen and may smoke up the home. A fireplace screen will also help to keep children and pets safely away from the fire.