’Tis the Season for Fireplace Safety

Nothing adds warmth and festiveness to those family gatherings like building a fire in a fireplace. Before you strike a match, check this safety list.

By David Noonan from Reader's Digest | December 2011 / January 2012

FireplaceGetty Images
Nothing adds warmth and festiveness to those family gatherings like giving Aunt Edna three hot toddies and building a fire in a fireplace. Before you strike a match, though, make sure you check this safety list.

  • Install a chimney cap to keep out debris and animals.
  • Always use a metal screen or glass fireplace door.
  • Have your chimney inspected annually and cleaned as necessary by a qualified specialist. As it burns, wood can leave a deposit called creosote along chimney walls, and it can catch fire if not removed regularly.
  • Burn well-seasoned hardwood that has been split for a minimum of six months. Never burn Christmas trees or treated wood.
  • Never burn cardboard, newspapers, or trash in your fireplace.
  • Keep furniture, decorations, and other potentially flammable material at least two feet from the fireplace.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher handy.

Sources: U.S. Fire Administration; Chimney Safety Institute of America; Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association

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