The snow is piling up and the winds from the north are whipping through. Everyone is bundled up inside. Whether they have skin or fur, lighting the logs you wonder “are my pets safe around this roaring fire?”.
Thankfully pet safety around fireplaces isn’t necessarily a difficult task and can involve just having a watchful eye in making sure they don’t wander too close. Sometimes though pet safety around a fireplace can involve additional investment in the form of certain equipment.
Many other techniques are just general guidelines of safety surrounding fireplaces that involve getting rid of clutter and maintaining the health of entire fireplace and chimney structure.
Animals can come in all sorts of sizes and shapes but all are subject to wandering too close to fires causing everything from mild irritation to burns, to potentially life-threatening injuries.
Fireplace Safety Training and Supervision
Many people see their pets as children and just like kids, animals can become curious as well. Pet safety with a fireplace starts with teaching your furry friends that the fire is a dangerous thing. Taking the same patient attention you did with housebreaking them, you should train them to keep a comfortable distance from the fire.
Remember, fireplace safety doesn’t just mean the fire itself but everything around the fire. Objects that surround the fireplace composed of glass and metal can be incredibly hot and lead to additional burns if touched.
While younger animals like kittens and puppies need a particularly strong hand, older pets have a tendency to wander toward heat sources in the cold as well and might need reminding of the dangers associated.
Supervision around a fireplace for a pet should never be lax even if they’re trained with the utmost diligence. Pets often forget the rules if they’re especially cold and may bundle up near the fire for extra warmth.
If you want to play with your pet make sure you don’t go near the hearth. Needless to say any sort of roughhousing near a fire is asking for trouble! Stumbling, falling, or sliding into or near the fire is much more likely when playing around.
Rid the Clutter for Fireplace Safety
Safety and cleanliness often go hand in hand. It’s no mystery why clutter can be food for straying embers and sparks to sink their teeth into. Needless to say, you should never have anything flammable around the hearth.
Specifically, you need to make sure you don’t have anything they can knock over or will attract them. This includes things like tools such as brooms, tongs and pokers. If you do have them nearby, make sure they are in a stable stanchion so they can’t be knocked over.
Keep an eye on smaller items, typically ones to start a fire with. Starter logs, matches and lighters should all be carefully kept up and away from pets that can eat these things which are very harmful. A blanket for instance is a magnet that pets can be attracted to and no doubt you are going to want to avoid having these around the fireplace.
Having a specific area to keep pillows and toys for your pet is a smart idea by keeping them away from the fire. Decorations such as tinsel and lights during the holiday season should be avoided along the top of the mantel (check out the article on Christmas fireplace ideas). These items are notorious for attracting cats and can lead to them either knocking things near the fire or falling into it themselves.
Invest in Gates and Fireplace Safety Equipment
Sometimes the best course of action isn’t just removing things, but actually adding something. Total protection from the fire is impossible but you can at least get a few items that can greatly cut back on potential injury to you and your pet.
Fireplace screens can greatly demotivate animals from getting too close. When picking the screen best for you, make sure that it’s the current size and style you want. For proper size, merely measure your fireplace opening and add 10 inches to the width and 3 inches to the height.
Metal offers more heat into the room but glass is often safer. Other equipment that’ll help pet proof your fireplace are things you’ve heard of before. Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors should be found around your house and checked approximately once a month and replaced at least once every ten years.
A fire extinguisher should be close on hand along with an understanding in how to operate it. When in doubt apply the PASS method:
- Pull the pin out
- Aim low toward the bottom of the fire
- Squeeze the lever below the handle
- Sweep from side-to-side repeatedly
Fireplace Safety and Maintenance
A fireplace not properly maintained will no doubt be a danger to everyone in your home so fireplace maintenance is important to those furry friends of yours. Doing all of the above is useless unless you take the time to keep the entire structure in proper working order.
Make sure to use dry wood when burning and make sure the flue and damper are open so smoke doesn’t come pouring into your home. Taking the time to clean underneath the wood rack after it has accumulated ash should be done regularly.
When cleaning below, make sure that you use safety gloves along with metal implements like a bucket and shovel. After the ash is removed, thoroughly water it down and keep it in a spot away from anything flammable for at least a couple days before disposing of it.
If you spot any water damage on the wall or ceiling around the chimney, you may have a leak. If you can manage it, look to see if any of the bricks on the chimney are cracked, eroded or splayed. About once a year a professional should come out and look at everything.
A chimney sweep should have all the proper certification and expertise, giving them a thorough but quick eye on any intrinsic issues with your fireplace or chimney.
Final Thoughts on Fireplace Safety
The first line of defense in pet proofing your fireplace is taking the time to teach them to stay away from it. This involves consistent supervision along with organizing your living room so as to encourage them to be away from the fireplace opening.
Make sure to keep all pet pillows, blankets and toys far away along with just generally reducing clutter around the hearth. Make sure to also invest into safety items like screens or glass doors, along with basic fire safety equipment like smoke detectors and fire extinguishers.
No matter how much pet proofing you do to your fireplace it won’t matter if it is in dilapidated condition. Take the time to maintain it and you’ll improve the safety of you and your pets.
If you plan on pet-proofing your fireplace, have it inspected first by one of our trained professionals. Vertical Chimney Care has been in business since 1985 and take chimney and fireplace safety seriously leaving our customers with peace of mind. Getting started is easy, contact us today!