Image The fireplace – Uploaded by DJ Lein

The Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service would like to remind citizens to be aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide and to be cautious when using wood-burning stoves or fireplaces this holiday season.

Carbon Monoxide safety tips:

* Carbon monoxide is created when fuel-burning appliances are not functioning correctly or not venting properly into outside air.

* Carbon monoxide can also leak into homes from garages or other adjacent enclosed spaces where automobiles have been left with their engines running.

* Have your furnace and any fuel-burning appliance checked by a qualified technician to ensure proper and safe ventilation and chimney function.

* Check periodically throughout the winter months to ensure high efficiency gas hot water tanks and high efficiency furnace vents don’t have an accumulation of ice. This can cause improper venting and an accumulation of carbon monoxide.

* As in every season, have working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors and test them regularly. Know when and how to call for help, and remember to practice your home escape plan.

Wood-burning stove and fireplace safety tips:

* Burn dry, well-seasoned wood that has been split properly. Green wood creates larger amounts of creosote.

* Burn small, hot fires. A smouldering fire creates more smoke and therefore a larger creosote build-up.

* Never burn garbage or glossy paper. Plastic, coloured ink on magazines and wrappers produce harmful chemicals and creosote when burned.

* Never burn treated wood. Particle board, plywood or any other painted or treated wood releases a toxic cloud of chemicals and can lead to creosote build-up.

* Always start your fire with newspaper and dry kindling. Never use gasoline, kerosene, charcoal starter or a propane torch. A fire can get out of control quickly with fuels other than wood.

* Regularly remove ashes from the stove or fireplace. Store them outside in a covered metal container in a safe area away from the house to avoid creating a fire hazard.

* Ensure that flammable household items such as drapes, furniture, newspaper and books are far away from all heat sources.

* Keep stove doors or insert doors closed unless loading or stoking the live fire. Use a screen in front of the fireplace to keep sparks and embers in.

* Have wood stoves or fireplaces and chimneys cleaned and inspected by a professional at least once a year.

Happy holidays Winnipeg!