It is officially cold enough in St. Louis to fire up your fireplace. Everybody loves to cozy up around the fire, and we want to make sure you are being safe while doing so. Don’t forget you need fire protection in your homeowners insurance policy.

Here are our 14 best tips for fireplace safety

1. Remember to open the flue before the first fire of the season. Before making the first fire, take a quick peak up the flue to make sure all is clear. No debris, birds, vermin nests or cobwebs.

2. Make sure you have the proper tools to operate the fireplace. Poker, tongs and a small metal shovel.

3. Make sure your chimney is inspected by a Certified Chimney Inspector.

4. Install a smoke and carbon monoxide monitor. Make sure batteries stay fresh. (Change your batteries when you change your clocks for daylight savings time.)

5. Have a fire extinguisher in a handy place and make sure everyone knows how to use it.

6. Make sure your fire screen is in good repair. If you have glass doors, then clean them.

7. Make sure the person loading the wood for the fire uses proper techniques. (There are many videos on Youtube explaining the fireplace and how to build a proper fire.)

8. Never use gasoline or any liquid accelerant.

9. Never burn Christmas paper in your fireplace. Wrapping paper emits a toxic smoke.

10. Make sure you have a fire-resistant fireplace mat in front of the fireplace. They come in many styles and colors. They will save your hardwood and carpeting from the inevitable sparks.

11. Never leave a fire unattended.

12. Make sure the area around the fireplace is completely free of flammable materials. Usually a five-foot diameter is sufficient.

13. When cleaning the fireplace of old ashes, remember to place them in a non-combustible container with a tight lid and place the container away from the house. Never throw ashes directly into a trash can. Make sure the ashes remain in the container for at least four to five days.

14. Use common sense. (Don’t let your drunk uncle tamper with the fire.)

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