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How to: Burn Safely this Winter

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As temperature drops, we love to stay in fireplaces to stay warm and provide heat in our homes. Wood fires can keep indoors warm and cozy, but they can also cause harm to the environment.

According to the Environmental protection Agency (EPA), wood smoke is made up of a mixture of gases and fire particle pollution that isn’t healthy to breathe indoors or out. It can also cause young children, the elderly, or anyone with low immune system with a heart or respiratory illness.

EPA’s solution to this problem is BurnWise program. It provides information on how to burn safely in a way that minimizes air pollution. The agency says it is important to burn the right wood, the right way, in the right wood-burning appliances.

Below is EPA's tips to protect your health with the air you breathe:

Burn only dry, seasoned wood and maintain a hot fire = Save money and time.

•Season and dry wood outdoors through the summer for at least 6 months before burning it.
•Start fires with clean newspaper and dry kindling.
•Keep burning hot fires.
•Never burn garbage, plastic, or pressure treated wood - this can produce harmful chemicals.

Have a certified technician annually inspect and service your appliances = A safer home or business.

•Nearly 7% of home fires are caused by creosote buildup in the chimney. Hire a certified chimney sweep to have your chimney cleaned annually.
•A properly installed and maintained wood-burning appliance burns more efficiently.
•If you smell smoke inside, then something may be wrong. Stop using the appliance and call a certified chimney sweep for inspection.

Upgrade to an efficient, EPA-approved wood-burning appliance = A healthier home or business.

•Nowadays, wood-burning appliances burn cleaner and produce less smoke inside and outside your home or office.
•Look for EPA labeling on your appliance.
•Efficient wood-burning appliances burn less wood, so you can save time and money.

EPA says wood-burning fireplaces do not burn as cleanly as EPA-certified wood stoves. In fact, it may be worth your while to have a professional install a gas fireplace insert, a gas log lighter, or a catalyst device to reduce pollution even more – and increase efficiency.

The BurnWise program will have federal EPA work with states and local agencies to help citizens change-out their older, inefficient wood-burning stoves with cleaner, more efficient appliances. The agency recently required a New Hampshire company to retrofit wood-burning stoves in private homes as a part of a settlement agreement for violations of the Clean Air Act.

So be prepared through the cold months ahead! Keep the three tips of better burning: burn the right wood in the right way and in the right appliance to stay safe and healthy!

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