Woodstove Safety

Reader Contribution by Bruce Mcelmurray
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We heat with a wood stove and live in the mountains where that stove gets plenty of continuous use. We burn approximately 9 to 11 cords of firewood each burning season which can last up to 8 months. Therefore woodstove safety is critical for our family of five. Carol and myself plus our three German Shepherd Dogs (GSD). One of the positive additions we have installed is a metal fence with a gate designed to encircle our woodstove.

Safety for a Blind Canine

We had thought of doing this several years ago, but when our female GSD went suddenly and totally blind with “Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration” (SARD) we realized with her lack of sight it would only be a matter of time before we would be facing a serious accident. After a month of adjusting to being blind and a hint from a MOTHER EARTH NEWS reader about something that had worked for her we gave it a try. Sarah actually regained her sight which totally astounded us and her vet. Our vet had told us that there was no cure and it would be permanent. The reader suggested bilberry capsules and it seemed to help restore her sight. Detached retinas don’t reattach but with the bilberry application hers actually did reattach in both eyes and was nothing short of a miracle. It is a rare disease with no treatment or known cure. We bought the metal fence before her sight was restored and now realize what a true safety feature it really is regardless if our GSD was blind or not. We don’t have to be in the room with our beloved fur family and we know they will be safe from being burned on the woodstove.

A Woodstove Fence a Good Solution

When the GSDs are playing anywhere near the woodstove, swinging tails can be singed accidentally by hitting the stove. This fence keeps our fur family safe from any burn injury and it would probably be equally safe for small children. It does not get hot enough to burn, but warm enough to not try to keep your hand on it very long. Burns are perhaps the most painful injury anyone can experience and the purchase of this reasonably priced fence with a gate may be the best way to protect unsuspecting animals or children who could easily come in contact with a hot woodstove. Our woodstove is cast iron and it gets very hot, but steel stoves get far hotter. So having a barrier that is non combustible and doesn’t contain the burning type of heat gives us the peace of mind that our four legged family members will stay safe.

The fence/gate is attractive and functional. It installed easily and the gate has a magnetic closure that prevents it from accidentally coming open. We can reach over it to insert firewood so we don’t have to open the gate each time. When our GSDs are playing with each other even if they bump against the fence they will not get burned. I wish we had bought this fence before and we would not have spent so much time making sure our fur family friends kept a safe distance from the hot woodstove.

Helpful Woodstove Tools

Other tools that help keep us safe as we use the stove is having a good pair of fireplace gloves. Those come almost up to our elbows and are heavy thick leather. They are very useful when putting large irregular logs in the fire box. A functional poker is also handy to have on hand. The one we bought was exactly what we knew would work well but it was too long. We took it to a local machine shop and they cut the handle down and rethreaded it for a minimal cost. Long unwieldy pokers are hard to handle and maneuver when readjusting firewood in a small fire box. The last important tool we use frequently is a good bellows. When we get up in the morning and clean the ash out of the stove there are often some live coals left. Using the bellows gets those coals roaring hot in short order and our fire is then continuous.

I have regretfully discovered that a moment of carelessness when I accidentally get a small burn is not only painful but it seems to take forever to heal. Staying safe in the daily operation of a woodstove is therefore much wiser than getting careless and hence burned. Having a workable fence with a sturdy gate around the woodstove is additional security and safety.

For more on Bruce and Carol McElmurray and their mountain living go to their blog,McElMurray’s Mountain Retreat.

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