Some of our best family memories are made around the warm glow of a fireplace. These hearths serve as a centerpiece for decorations, warmth, and other occasions throughout the year. Our fireplaces do a lot to help our homes stay warm, but there is a lot we need to know before lighting up the logs.

Checking Outside
Before you light the fire inside, make sure your fireplace is in working order from the outside. Take a walk around the exterior of your home and look for any cracks or damage to your chimney. Make sure your chimney cap is in place so no animals are in your chimney. Feel free to call a chimney sweep who can go into your chimney and remove any debris that could either cause a fire or enter your home when you open the chimney vent.

If you notice any damage to the exterior of your chimney, call a repairman to come and look over it and make any necessary repairs. In addition, have them check the inside of the chimney for cracks in the chimney liners or other worries that could lead to a dangerous house fire.

Checking Inside
Grab a flashlight and inspect your fireplace flue. Make sure it opens and closes properly, seals well and there is no noticeable damage. Next, open the flue and check for any flammable items hiding in your chimney. Remove any dirt, leaves, debris or other objects that could ignite and cause a more dangerous fire.

Check inside your fireplace and chimney for any moisture. Moisture can indicate either a leak somewhere in the fireplace, or other damage that could have fatal results. Call a repairman to help with any damage or issues you find.

Lighting the Fire
Always use dry, dense wood for your fire. Damp or wet wood can take longer to light and often leftover moisture can cause sparks in the fire. Make sure you clean out the floor of your fireplace after each fire so you don’t have any ashes or other materials left that could catch on fire or cause a problem.

Never late a fire too late in the evening, and make sure you put a fire out completely before going to sleep. All logs should be placed in the rear of the fireplace and a cover should be placed in front of the fire. Do not use flammable liquids to start the fire and instead rely on kindling or start logs. Never let children near the flames or allow them to handle any fireplace materials.

When lighting a fire in your home, make sure you are doing all you can to be safe and enjoy the warmth it brings your family.

For more on keeping your home safe, head over to Crossfire Alarms.