Is It Safe to Sleep by the Fireplace?

Winter is here. It can be tempting to spend your night cuddled up next to a warm, cracking fire. But is it safe?

By Nicole Gleichmann

As the temperatures drop and leaves are replaced with white, fluffy snow, there is nothing quite as comforting as spending time basking in the warmth of a wood-burning fireplace. As you watch the flames cast shadows around you, it can be tempting to forgo your bedroom for this winter wonderland.

Before you give in to this temptation, you should understand that there are dangers associated with sleeping in front of the fireplace. To keep you, your loved ones, and your home safe this winter season, avoid going to sleep before a fire is completely out.

fireplace

Why You Should Never Fall Asleep by the Fireplace

Most of us have gone our whole lives without any negative consequences from using a fireplace. Plus, the apparent sturdiness of a fireplace provides a false sense of security. In reality, there are numerous dangers associated with having a fire in your home. We will review these dangers and explain how they are increased if you take a nap or leave the fire unattended.

Danger #1: A House Fire

Every year, fireplace fires lead to chimney fires and house fires. One of the most common causes of this type of fire is a faulty chimney.

Chimneys and flues are designed to carry gases out of your home safely. Most of us take this function for granted, rarely having a professional visit our home to inspect its safety.

Over time, a chimney’s condition can decline. It can become clogged with soot, resulting in the buildup of dangerously high temperatures and gases. It may even fall apart, allowing heat into the walls rather than having them escape through the chimney.

Another way that a fireplace fire can result in a house fire is through a stray ember or log. An ember can escape up through the chimney and catch the roof on fire, or a log or ember can exit from the mouth of a fireplace that is not set up correctly.

To protect yourself from a fire

  • Have your fireplace inspected by a professional every 1 to 2 years to ensure that it is structurally sound and free from debris. Be sure to go with a reputable chimney sweep; read reviews to find a quality company in your area.
  • Always use a sturdy fireplace screen to keep embers from entering the room.
  • Do not keep anything flammable near the fireplace, such as rugs, blankets, and furniture.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher nearby when you use your fireplace.

Danger #2: Carbon Monoxide

When you burn wood, it releases carbon monoxide (CO), a buildup of which can result in carbon monoxide poisoning.

Early signs of carbon monoxide poisoning include dizziness, headache, confusion, nausea, and shortness of breath. If you are awake, you may spot these signs early enough to avoid danger, but if you are sleeping, you are likely to sleep through them.

Carbon monoxide buildup is most likely to occur if you are burning a large fire in a small, poorly ventilated room. A faulty flue or block in your chimney can also result in combustion gases building up and coming into your home.

To protect yourself from carbon monoxide released from wood-burning fires, be sure to have carbon monoxide detectors installed throughout your house, including near your fireplace. And always make sure that your flue is completely open when you have a fire going.

Danger #3: Smoke Inhalation

Whenever you burn wood, small particles are released into the air. These particles can pose dangers to your health, particularly for elderly adults, children, and those with asthma or lung disease. If you notice a runny nose, burning eyes, or any breathing difficulties, ventilate the room and extinguish the fire safely.


Conclusion

Enjoying a cozy fire in your fireplace on a cold, winter’s day can be a wonderful way to spend an evening. Just remember to think about fire safety when you do. And, no matter how tempting, don’t fall asleep with a fire lit in the fireplace or leave a fire unattended. Instead, head to your bed and revel in your favorite blankets and pillows safely.


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