It sounds like an urban legend or a crazy movie plot, but each year, people become lodged inside chimneys. We’re providing you with a reminder: Chimneys are not entry points. Never try to crawl up or down your chimney for any reason, whether you’re trying to clear out an animal or surprise your family with a Santa-style entry.
You may think we’re mad for writing this blog, but we have seen enough stories in the news about people becoming stuck in chimneys that we feel it’s worth publicly warning people against entering chimneys. Here are some recent news stories to illustrate our point:
- In November, the sheriff’s office in Fresno County, Calif., was called to a home after the home’s owner lit a fire in the fireplace and heard screams from the flue. The homeowner frantically tried to put out the flames, but the man who was attempting to crawl down the chimney to burglarize the home died of burns and smoke inhalation. The chimney had to be dismantled to free the man’s body.
- Phoenix firefighters had to use sledgehammers and power drills to break a 23-year-old man out of a chimney in July. He tried to crawl down the chimney after his friends locked him out of his house.
- Santa Clarita, Calif., firefighters used ropes to pull a man from his chimney in November. He was unharmed, and it wasn’t clear why he was inside the chimney.
- A York, Pa., man jumped into a chimney in June while trying to evade police looking to serve him a warrant. He became stuck and had to be extracted by local firefighters. He wasn’t injured.
Sadly, the list of people stuck and/or killed inside chimneys goes on and on. A woman in Los Angeles in 2014 was trying to sneak into the home of a man she had met online when she became stuck in the chimney. Firefighter had to use jackhammers to free her. A 13-year-old boy in Scottsdale, Ariz., had to be rescued when he tried to repel down the inside of his chimney. In May of 2014, a California man had to be freed from his ex-girlfriend’s chimney after trying to break into her home.
Chimneys aren’t ideal entry points for several reasons. First and foremost, chimneys are much smaller than they appear from the outside. The walls of a chimney are thick, and some include stainless steel liner tubes, which means they are not large enough to accommodate a person. Secondly, most chimneys include at least one bend, and they can include up to three bends, which provides pinch points at which people can become stuck. Finally, chimneys are dirty. They’re full of soot and creosote, which are bad for your health!
While you may think it’s crazy to try, we hope we’ve convinced you not to use your chimney as an entry point for any reason! If there is an emergency inside your chimney, such as a stuck animal or potential damage, call the experts to deal with it.