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7 Tips to Safely Enjoy Your Fireplace Throughout the Chilly Season

firefeetIt’s the perfect season to cozy up by that fire. And while fireplaces can provide warmth and enjoyment, they can also present a hazard. Every year, nearly 25,000 fireplace-related fires are reported in the U.S., but these fires are preventable. So before snuggling down in front of the toasty flames, be sure your fireplace is in good working order and that the area surrounding it is safe. Here are some tips to keep you and your family safe (and warm!) in the coming months:
1) Have your chimney cleaned and inspected by a licensed professional before the start of every season to be sure it is free of creosote or other materials that can cause a fire.
2) Keep a non-flammable rug in front of the fireplace to prevent sparks from igniting or melting carpeting and be sure the area surrounding the fireplace is free of materials or debris that can catch fire.
3) Have a smoke detector on each floor of your home and check them once a month. Replace batteries yearly.
4) Be sure to monitor small children around the fireplace. Having a childproof fireplace gate is a great idea for added safety.
5) Use seasoned hardwood for burning. Wood that is moist or soft encourages creosote buildup.
6) Do not use flammable liquids to start a fire and never use debris such as trash or cardboard boxes to start or keep kindling going.
7) Surprisingly, ashes can stay hot for days so dispose of them by transferring to a non-combustible metal container with a lid and wet them down. Keep the container at least ten feet away from the house, deck, and/or any combustible materials.