If you are using a fireplace or wood stove as your main source of heating, you will have plenty of daily and weekly fireplace chores to complete, such as adding fuel to the fire, stoking the fire in the morning, and cleaning out the ash pan. Even if your fireplace is solely for entertainment, you will still have a few maintenance chores to complete when your family uses it. You may be wondering how safe it is to allow your children to interact with the fireplace and whether they should have chores associated with the fireplace. Below are some tips for setting up family responsibilities for your fireplace.
Start With a List of Fireplace Chores
When deciding who in your family will do what, it is important to begin with a list of all of the fireplace chores. You should make a chart of daily, weekly, monthly and annual fireplace cleaning tasks, such as emptying ash and cleaning the glass. If you are using the fireplace as a source of heating, you will also want to add in chores related to starting the morning fire, adding fuel throughout the day, carrying wood in from the wood stack and splitting fuel into kindling.
Once you have a complete chore chart, it will be easier to divide responsibilities fairly.
Consider Your Child's Maturity and Experience When Assigning Tasks
Age is not always a good indicator of which chores your child is ready to take on. Their maturity and experience with fireplaces is much more pertinent. For example, an 8-year-old who has grown up with a fireplace in the home may be able to start fires, add fuel, and clean out ashes, whereas a 10-year-old with no fireplace experience may not be able to complete these tasks without instruction and close supervision.
Before you assign any chore to your child, you should make sure that they can efficiently and safely complete the chore by instructing them and then supervising several times.
Consider the Potential Risk Associated With Each Task
When assigning tasks to young children, you should consider how dangerous or critical each task is, both to your child and your equipment. For example, adding fuel to a fire can be a more dangerous task than starting a fire, which is a risk to your child. While cleaning out the fireplace once it has cooled may not pose a risk to your child, it is possible for them to spread ashes in your home or to damage the fire brick by being too rough with it.
You may want to complete high-risk tasks yourself or assign them to another adult and allow your younger children to watch or assist with these tasks until you are comfortable that they can complete them on their own.
Check to Make Sure Chores Are Completed
After you assign chores, you should check in regularly to make sure that your children are completing them. For example, failing to wipe down the glass on your fireplace once a week could lead to buildup that is hard to clean. Similarly, if your children forget to add fuel to the fire, it can result in a cold house for you. Regular checkups will assure you that your fireplace system is running efficiently.
You should keep in mind that some fireplace tasks may be too complex or dangerous for your children or yourself. For example, you may want to hire a professional to complete an annual inspection of your fireplace and chimney. Additionally, you may want to hire a professional to sweep out your chimney when it is necessary. Click here to learn more about your fireplace maintenance options.