Another summer has come to a close in some areas of the country. The days are getting shorter and the nights a little colder. There are still things we should keep in mind to keep our homes safe during the fall season.
Nothing beats having a fire in our fireplaces or wood burning stoves when the temperatures drop. If you’re like me, you’ll find yourself turning your backside to the fire to feel the warmth. Now is a perfect time to make sure our chimneys are clean and the spark arrester is secured. We don’t think of what goes up and out of our chimney when we are inside. The crackle of the wood burning can send embers up and out of the chimney, possibly causing a fire to start in our yard much like a large wildland fire sends embers into the air that are carried out in front of the fire and cause “spot fires”. Having a spark arrester in place helps eliminate these embers landing on our roof and in our yard. Having a clean chimney will assist in the fireplace or wood stove function properly -- not to mention making it safer to use.
Most homeowners who have fireplaces will bring their firewood closer to the house in the cooler weather. While this will save a walk to get firewood, it could be dangerous. Wind and animals can fill the gaps in the stacked wood with fine materials that can catch fire very easily. All it takes is for an ember to land in one of these spaces and ignite these fine fuels. Once these are ignited, they can ignite the larger wood pieces causing a fire to get quickly out of control. Remember - if the firewood is stacked on a deck or touching the home, it now has become part of the home and can lead fire directly to the home. Keep your firewood at least 30 feet from the home. Keeping the pile covered could help keep embers from landing in the void spaces in the stack.
If your home has gutters, and you are anywhere close to trees, your gutters will collect debris that could threaten your home during a wildfire. Gutters are something we don’t think about cleaning until it rains and they overflow. What about that material in our gutters when it’s not raining? Usually that material is exposed to the sun for periods of time and will dry out and become extremely vulnerable to ignition from embers. Pine needles and leaves can collect in gutters without us knowing. The time to worry about this is NOT during a fire! Cleaning gutters may not be a one-time job depending on where you live. In some areas, you may need to clean your gutters a few times a season.