There’s a certain romance to a crackling fire warming up a cold November night, but if you go through the motions without ensuring your fireplace is safe you could be lighting the way to disaster. Unkempt fireplaces can spark dangers ranging from house fires to skin burns and air poisoning.
An ancient article from the Michigan State University Extension has advice that’s as true today as it was in 2003:
* Don’t use flammable liquids. Explosions you can get away with when working a charcoal grill won’t look too pretty on your carpet or linoleum.
* Keep up your air supply. Especially in small rooms, fires can burn up more than their share of oxygen and cloud the air with smoke. Turn off exhaust fans and crack a window while the fire burns.
* Make sure ashes are cool before you get rid of them. Fill a garbage can with fire hazards and you could be cooking up a stinky cesspool of horror.
Fireplace Safety [Michigan State University Extension]