fireA fire crackling in the fireplace brings warmth and “atmosphere” to a room and a pleasant feeling of nostalgia to the heart – but it also brings an increased risk of a house fire.

Not to worry. The U.S. Fire Administration has suggestions for how you can safely enjoy your fireplace this winter.

  • Start with having a certified chimney specialist clean and inspect your fireplace and chimney. Do this every year.
  • Next, take a look at those stockings that are “hung by the chimney with care.” If they’re anywhere near the fire area, find somewhere else to hang them. In fact, make sure the entire hearth area is free of decorations, debris and any materials that might be flammable.
  • Don’t stop there. Examine the walls around fireplaces to be sure that they are made with fire-resistant materials.
  • Does your fireplace have glass doors? If it does, always leave them open while the fire is burning, to ensure the fire has enough air to prevent creosote buildup in the chimney. Close the doors when the fire has burned out.
  • If your fireplace does not have a glass door, place a mesh screen in front of your fire.
  • Use a stovepipe thermometer to make sure that flue temperature is appropriate.
  • And finally, always open air inlets on wood stoves and make sure they have adequate air supply.