Fireplace ashes: 4 fire prevention tips

The fireplace can be both a source of comfort and a fire hazard. According to the Red Cross , the use of auxiliary heating equipment is the leading cause of house fires in Canada during winter. Fires often occur when ashes are not put out properly or the heating source is used incorrectly. Let’s take a closer look at how you should use your auxiliary heating unit to stay safe and warm this winter.

Step 1: Clean your fireplace or wood stove regularly

To limit the risk of fire, clean your fireplace regularly depending on how often you use it. To clean it, remove the ashes with a steel fireplace shovel. You should never vacuum the ashes, as fine particles can clog the filter.

Step 2: Collect the ashes

Place them in a solid metal container with a raised bottom and lid. This is important because the ashes typically stay hot for 72 hours or more! The container must be airtight and fireproof.

Step 3: Place the container of ashes outside

Place the container outside with the lid closed for 72 hours. Leave it at least one metre away from the house or any material that might catch fire.

Step 4: Dispose of the ashes

After 72 hours have elapsed, check to see whether the ashes are cool. Stir the ashes to make sure they’re not giving off any smoke or heat. You can then transfer them to a plastic bag and place it in the garbage or compost bin if you have one.

What other safety tips can you apply when using your auxiliary heating unit?

To prevent a fireplace or wood stove fire, follow these tips:

  • Have the chimney swept at least once a year in the spring or fall or after burning three cords of wood.
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors near bedrooms and basements. Avoid placing one near a fan, door or window. Do not install them in the bathroom, kitchen or garage. Check them regularly to make sure they are fully functional.
  • Clear the snow from emergency exits (basement) so that you can evacuate the house quickly, if necessary.
  • Get a 5-lb. portable ABC dry chemical fire extinguisher which will put out almost any kind of fire in your home. Make sure it’s always readily accessible in case of an emergency and ready to use.

Have more questions about auxiliary heating units? Contact a wood stove or fireplace specialist who will be able to provide any additional information you may need.