10 Safety Tips to Remember when Using a Wood Burning Stove

A wood burning stove that is properly installed and carefully maintained can provide the warmth and comfort you need in winter. Wood burning stoves also provide the perfect heating alternative when there is a power outage. However, there are several important safety factors to consider when you use your wood burning stove.

Tip 1: Maintain the Required Distance between the Stove and Surroundings

During installation of your wood burning stove, you must ensure that it meets the clearance requirements specified by your local fire department. Most fire safety codes required that a wood burning stove must be at least 3 feet away from drapes, furniture and other items.

Tip 2: Burn only Seasoned, Dry Wood

The best material to burn in a wood burning stove is dry wood that has been seasoned for at least 6 months. This type of wood burns quicker and brighter, thereby reducing the formation of creosote. Creosote is a highly inflammable byproduct of incomplete combustion of firewood, which usually forms in the chimney and can increase the likelihood of fire. Burning unseasoned or wet wood greatly increases creosote formation and must be avoided.

Tip 3: Light Small, Bright Fires

Burning a big pile of wood causes incomplete burning and can result in overheating of the fireplace and chimney. This is very unsafe, which is why the best practice is to light small fires and then add small pieces of seasoned firewood as required.

Tip 4: Have the Chimney Inspected and Cleaned Every Year

A licensed chimney sweep must inspect and clean your chimney at least once a year. This maintenance is critical to maintaining the safety of your stove and chimney, because it removes any soot and creosote formation.

Tip 5: Never Burn Paper or Trash

Burning paper or trash in the wood burning stove may seem like a quick way to light a fire. However, this practice is dangerous because these substances are highly combustible and may emanate toxic gases.

Tip 6: Keep Children and Pets Away

Never leave a wood burning stove unsupervised. Make sure your children and pets are a safe distance away. Installing a safety gate around the wood burning stove is an effective way of maintaining a boundary.

Tip 7: Keep the Area around the Stove Clear of Household Items

Avoid clutter around the wood burning stove. Embers from the fire can land on nearby items and ignite a fire. Keep books, toys, clothes and rugs well away from the stove, especially if you have children close by.

Tip 8: Keep Combustible Materials Away

Never store combustible liquids such as kerosene or gasoline in your home. Never use these substances to start a fire or to increase the intensity of a fire in your wood burning stove. Keep firewood in a protected location outdoors as well.

Tip 9: Dispose of Ashes Outside

After a fire has died out, collect the ashes in a metal container. You can wet the ashes to subdue any remaining embers. Dispose of the ashes outdoors, away from trees and plants.

Tip 10: Install Smoke Alarms and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Any home that uses a wood burning stove must have a working smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector. These devices warn you in times of danger and can save your home and family. Also keep a fire extinguisher nearby.