01-15-07 In this cold weather, many families are relying on fireplaces for warmth. But if you do not clean your chimney before you use it, you could be putting your family and home at risk.
The dangers associated with fireplaces and stoves are risks that people take to help heat their homes. Just ask Carroll Burnett, whose home was almost completely lost after a fire started in his chimney.
"My house caught on fire in the attic, burned the house down. We didn't take care enough of the chimney I guess something you need to take serious is the chimney in your house..if you burn wood...need to keep it clean."
Chimney experts say woodburning fire places and pellet burning stoves can accumulate soot and other flammable material over time, which can catch fire.
Durant Fire Chief Steven Dow says that you should inspect your chimney once every year. He also says not to burn green wood. And burning dry wood can actually clean your chimney.
Dow says when you go to clean the fireplace, use a flat pole to knock down debris and then clean up the build up of creosote. Also, as the fire is burning, do not cut off the air flow.
"When they build a constant fire, closing the air flow reduces the efficiency the fire can burn at," Dow said.
Dow says if a fire starts in your chimney, do not panic, call 911.
The Chief also recommends keeping a fire extinguisher nearby. But make sure you know how to use it properly.
"You wouldn't want to blow off the back of the house and that's what you'll get by aiming it at the fire itself."
Burnett seconds those suggestions.
"Don't take taking care of your chimney lightly, its something that needs to be done every year and taken care of."
Chief Dow says that space heaters also pose a big problem for them during the winter. In that case, make sure the heaters aren't located close to any fabrics or bedding becuase of the potential fire hazard.