Fireplaces and wood burning stoves are very popular choices for backup heat or supplemental heating sources. They’re also one of the major causes of house fires when they are not properly respected and maintained. The following safety tips apply to both fireplaces and wood burning stoves, as both operate by using flame and wood.

Wood Storage

Whether you use a fireplace or a wood burning stove, you need a good stockpile of wood. Create a dry, warm space in your home where you can effectively store wood. The best place for this dry wood storage would be near the hearth so it is within easy reach.

Haul in enough wood to last for a day or two at a time so you don’t have to make so many trips outside. Opening and closing the door allows heat to escape and cold air to rush inside. This effectively kills your efforts of maintaining a warm home.

Storing wood inside your home opens the home up to the possibility of bugs. Wood is a natural home for many insect species and arachnids. Never spray bug killer on the wood you intend to burn in your home. Inspect each piece as you pick it up and brush off any obvious insects to prevent carrying them directly into the house.

Wood that has been stored outside and collected moisture over time is prone to mold and mildew. Make sure your wood is stored in a dry, warm area before bringing it into the home. Mold presents a health hazard, and mildew will make the house smell musty.


Firewood pops and sends embers into the room. These sparks damage everything they land on, whether it’s hardwood, vinyl floor covering, a rug, or carpet. They cause serious burn injuries on people and pets, so always use a fireplace screen to protect your home and loved ones from a dangerous situation.

Children and Pets

Some of the worst dangers surrounding fireplaces and wood burning stoves are burn injuries. Children and pets don’t often understand the dangers surrounding heat producing appliances such as these. They may be accustomed to running and playing in the house without worry during the summer, and then suddenly there’s this very hot and dangerous appliance that was safe until colder weather hit. The sudden change is difficult for them to remember right away and they may get burned.

Another serious issue with wood burning stoves and hearth platforms is the potential for injuries received from a fall. They often have sharp corners and a fall into a sharp, hard corner is very dangerous. Teach your child and pets basic fireplace safety and don’t allow them to play within a few feet of the hearth.

Cleaning and Inspection

Your fireplace, wood burning stove, and chimney must be inspected and cleaned at least once per year. Some people recommend a twice a year cleaning to ensure that there are no blockages before you light the first fire of the new fall season.