Getty ImagesNothing 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