To avoid unexpected mishaps that could ruin an evening around the fireplace, observe some simple precautions.

  • Clean fireplaces annually, preferably by a certified chimney sweep.
  • Use safety screens and doors for wood-burning fireplaces.
  • Before lighting any fire, check to see that flue damper is open.
  • Only burn dry, seasoned wood. Green or wet wood will not burn cleanly, increasing the rate of creosote buildup.
  • Do not burn wrapping papers or evergreens in the fireplace. These ignite suddenly and burn intensely, increasing the risk of a flash fire.
  • Use care with "fire salts," which produce colored flames when thrown on wood fires. Keep them away from children and avoid inhaling smoke from their flames.
  • Do not leave the fire unattended, and make sure you have at least one working smoke/fire detector.

Remember, when in doubt, always consult a professional. More home safety information and maintenance information is available online at