How to Keep Your Family Safe with Proper Fireplace Usage

Introduction to Fireplace and Wood Heater Safety:

As the chill of the Australian winter approaches, the warmth of a home becomes more inviting than ever. At the heart of this comfort is the fireplace, a central source of warmth and family gatherings. Specifically, wood heaters offer a unique blend of cosiness and efficiency, making them a preferred choice for many. Understanding how to use these heaters safely is crucial in protecting your loved ones from potential hazards. Coonara wood heaters, renowned for their safety features and efficiency, stand out as a safer and more reliable option compared to traditional open fireplaces.

Wood Heater Vs. Open Fireplace

Understanding the differences between an open fireplace and a wood heater is crucial for anyone considering the best way to heat their home safely and efficiently. Here’s a comparison highlighting the superior safety features of a wood heater:

Open Fireplace:

  • Ventilation and Heat Loss: Open fireplaces can draw warm air out of a room and up the chimney, leading to significant heat loss and reduced efficiency. The open design also requires constant supervision to prevent sparks or embers from escaping and causing a fire hazard.
  • Fuel Consumption: They typically consume more wood because a lot of the heat escapes through the chimney, making them less efficient.
  • Safety Concerns: Open fireplaces present a higher risk for fire hazards due to sparks and embers that can easily escape into the living space. Additionally, they require a protective screen to somewhat mitigate this risk, but the open design still poses inherent dangers, especially for homes with children and pets.

Wood Heater:

  • Enclosed Design: Wood heaters have an enclosed design, which significantly reduces the risk of sparks and embers escaping and igniting nearby combustible materials. This design feature alone makes wood heaters a safer option compared to open fireplaces.
  • Efficiency and Heat Output: They are designed to maximise heat output and retain warmth, with advanced combustion technology that ensures more complete burning of wood. This not only reduces fuel consumption but also minimises the emission of harmful pollutants.
  • Controlled Ventilation: Wood heaters have adjustable air vents that allow for better control over the fire's intensity and burn rate, enabling users to create a safer and more efficient heating environment. This control mechanism also contributes to reduced heat loss, making wood heaters more economical in the long run.
  • Safety Features: Modern wood heaters come equipped with safety features such as heat shields and air-tight doors that further reduce the risk of accidents, making them a preferable choice for families concerned about safety.

In summary, while both open fireplaces and wood heaters have their charm and benefits, wood heaters stand out for their superior safety features, efficiency, and environmental friendliness. The enclosed design, efficient combustion, and advanced safety features make wood heaters a safer, more sustainable, and cost-effective choice for heating your home.

Understanding Your Coonara Wood Heater:

Coonara wood heaters come in a variety of models to suit every home's needs - be it large, small, medium, in-built, or freestanding options. Each model is designed with unique features that not only enhance the efficiency of heating your home but also prioritise your safety. These innovations ensure that enjoying the warmth of your wood heater does not come with a compromise on safety.

Installation and Maintenance:

The Importance of Professional Installation: Ensuring your Coonara wood heater is professionally installed is the first step to guaranteeing its safe operation. A correct installation by a certified professional can prevent many issues down the line.

Regular Maintenance Checks: Like any significant home appliance, your wood heater requires regular maintenance to operate safely and efficiently. Annual inspections and cleanings are vital, and recognising signs of wear or malfunction can prevent potential hazards.

Safe Operation Practices:

Operating your Coonara wood heater safely is key to enjoying its warmth without worry. Here's how:

Always start with the right fuel: dry, untreated hardwoods such as Redgur or Ironbark are ideal. Never use soft woods like pine or cypress, and do not use treated or painted wood.

Ensure proper lighting techniques: To ensure your Coonara wood heater is lit safely and effectively, follow these steps for proper lighting techniques:

  1. Preparation: Begin by ensuring your wood heater is clean and free from ash and debris from previous fires. Open the air controls to allow for maximum airflow during the lighting process.
  2. Kindling: Place a layer of small, dry kindling wood on the base of the firebox. Kindling is crucial as it catches fire quickly and helps in igniting larger pieces of wood. You can also use a natural firelighter for an easier start.
  3. Building the Fire: On top of the kindling, add two to three smaller pieces of dry, seasoned hardwood. Arrange them in a way that allows air to circulate freely. This setup ensures a strong and lasting burn as the fire progresses.
  4. Ignition: Light the kindling or firelighter with a long match or lighter. Keep the wood heater's door slightly ajar for a few minutes to encourage airflow, which helps the fire to catch.
  5. Maintaining the Fire: Once the kindling has caught fire and the small pieces of wood start to burn, gradually add larger pieces of hardwood to the fire. Adjust the air controls to manage the burn rate and temperature. It's important to avoid overloading the heater, as this can lead to excessive smoke and reduced efficiency.
  6. Safety Check: Once your fire is established, ensure the heater's door is securely closed, and adjust the air intake to maintain a safe and efficient burn. Always stay nearby until you're sure the fire is burning steadily.

Managing ventilation: Proper ventilation is a cornerstone of safely operating your Coonara wood heater, directly impacting both the efficiency of your heating system and the safety of your indoor environment. Adequate airflow is essential for the complete combustion of wood, which maximises heat output and minimises the production of smoke and harmful emissions such as carbon monoxide. 

Ensuring your home is well-ventilated and that your wood heater's flue system is clear and properly maintained allows for the escape of combustion gases outside, keeping the air inside your home clean and safe to breathe. Regular checks and maintenance of the flue and ventilation systems help prevent the build-up of soot and creosote, which can pose fire hazards and contribute to air pollution. 

By managing ventilation effectively, you not only enhance the performance of your Coonara wood heater but also safeguard the health and wellbeing of your family, making your home a safer and more comfortable place during the cooler months.

Protecting Children and Pets

The natural curiosity of children and pets often draws them close to the warmth and light of a fire, making it essential to implement protective measures around your Coonara wood heater. Safety barriers or gates are invaluable in creating a physical boundary that keeps curious hands and paws at a safe distance. These barriers should be sturdy and heat-resistant, ensuring they can stand firm even if bumped into.

In addition to physical barriers, education plays a crucial role in fireplace safety. Teaching children about the dangers associated with getting too close to the fire, including the risks of burns and fire spread, helps instil a sense of caution. Use age-appropriate language and demonstrations to explain why the fireplace area is off-limits without adult supervision.

For pets, consistent training to stay clear of the wood heater area is important. Utilising commands or even pet barriers when unable to supervise directly can prevent accidental burns or injuries.

By combining these preventive measures with close supervision, you can significantly reduce the risks associated with wood heaters, ensuring that both children and pets can safely enjoy the warmth of your home during the cooler months.

Fireplace Accessories for Safety

Ensuring the safety of your Coonara wood heater extends beyond proper installation and maintenance; incorporating the right accessories plays a pivotal role in safeguarding your home. Fire guards and screens are indispensable, offering a physical barrier that protects against stray sparks or embers that could pose a risk to nearby furnishings or occupants. Additionally, investing in a set of quality fireplace tools, including tongs, poker, and shovels, allows for the safe adjustment and maintenance of the fire without risking burns or accidents. These accessories not only enhance the safety of operating your wood heater but also contribute to its efficiency by facilitating better fire management and maintenance practices. Selecting these safety-enhancing accessories ensures a secure and enjoyable warmth for everyone in the home.

Combustible and Non-Combustible Materials

Understanding the difference between combustible and non-combustible materials is essential for maintaining safety around your fireplace or wood heater. This knowledge can help prevent fire hazards in your home by ensuring that potentially dangerous materials are kept at a safe distance from the heat source.

Combustible Materials: These are materials that can ignite and burn easily. Wood, paper, fabric, and certain types of plastics are common examples. Due to their propensity to catch fire, these materials should never be stored near a fireplace or wood heater. This includes furniture, rugs, curtains, and any decorations made from or containing combustible substances. Keeping combustible materials at least one meter away from the heater can significantly reduce the risk of accidental fires.

Non-Combustible Materials: In contrast, non-combustible materials are those that do not ignite or burn when exposed to fire. Materials such as metal, glass, and certain types of treated wood products are considered non-combustible. These are safer to use in the vicinity of high temperatures and flames, often being used in the construction of the fireplace or heater itself, as well as in the protective barriers or screens designed to enhance safety.

When arranging your living space or storage areas, it's crucial to:

  • Identify and categorise materials based on their combustibility.
  • Maintain a safe zone around the wood heater, free from any combustible materials, to prevent accidental ignition.
  • Use non-combustible materials for any necessary items or fixtures close to the heater, such as fireplace tools or screens.
  • By understanding these distinctions and taking the appropriate precautions, you can enjoy the warmth and comfort of your Coonara wood heater while keeping your home safe from potential fire hazards.

Emergency Preparedness

Emergency preparedness is critical when it comes to safely enjoying your Coonara wood heater. To adequately prepare for any unexpected incidents, having a fire extinguisher readily accessible near the heater is fundamental. Additionally, equipping your space with safety items such as fire blankets and a first aid kit can significantly mitigate risks in the event of an emergency. Regular checks and maintenance of smoke alarms are also vital; ensuring they are in working order can provide an early warning that can prevent potential disasters. It's crucial to have an emergency plan that all household members are familiar with, including safe evacuation routes and procedures. Being well-prepared not only minimises the risk of fire-related emergencies but also ensures that, should an incident occur, you are equipped to handle it efficiently and safely.

  • Fire Extinguisher: Keep a fire extinguisher readily accessible near your wood heater.
  • Fire Blankets: Have fire blankets available for immediate use in case of a fire outbreak.
  • First Aid Kit: Maintain a well-stocked first aid kit to address any minor burns or injuries promptly.
  • Smoke Alarms: Regularly test and maintain smoke alarms to ensure they are in working order, providing early warnings.
  • Emergency Plan: Develop and practise an emergency evacuation plan with all household members, identifying safe exits and meeting points.
  • Safety Items: Position safety items such as torches and batteries within easy reach in case of power outages.
  • Evacuation Routes: Clearly mark and familiarise all household members with the safest evacuation routes from different parts of the house.
  • Emergency Contacts: Keep a list of emergency contact numbers, including local fire services, readily available.


Fireplace safety is paramount when enjoying the warmth and comfort of a wood heater. By following these guidelines, you can ensure a safe environment for your family. Coonara wood heaters, with their focus on safety and efficiency, provide peace of mind along with cosy warmth, making them a superior choice to open fireplaces.

For more information on safe fireplace usage or to schedule your next maintenance check, contact your local Coonara dealer today. Let us help you keep your home safe and warm this winter.

This comprehensive guide not only equips you with the knowledge to use your Coonara wood heater safely but also underscores the importance of choosing quality, Australian-made heaters for unparalleled safety and efficiency. By understanding the different types of fireplaces, adhering to specific safety practices, and selecting the right accessories, you can create a secure and warm environment for your family. 

Remember, educating everyone in the home, especially children, about fireplace safety is key to preventing accidents and ensuring a pleasant and safe winter season.

magnifiercrossmenu linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram