Winter is the perfect time to shield you and your loved ones from the cold by getting cozy next to a fire.It is also the peak season for home fires in the United States, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)—the world’s leading advocate of fire and prevention.Also according to the NFPA, home heating equipment is the second leading cause of home fires and home fire deaths. Not feeling too cozy now, are you?Well, after the fire has burned out and you return to the routines of the day; how much thought do you give to what’s happening in your fireplace after you leave? Probably, not much. But did you know that improper ash removal causes thousands of fires every year?Nonetheless, there is no reason why you still can’t enjoy a roaring fire at home. But, just like every other time of the year, it is important to educate yourself on proper fire safety and fire prevention.It can also be a costly mistake.According to the Gaudette Insurance Agency, home fires created by improper disposal of fireplace ash displaces dozens of families and causes thousands of dollars in damages. Doing so can help you avoid a house fire.Let’s take a look at the proper way to remove and dispose of fireplace ashes.RemovalIn order to remove hot fireplace ash, you must have the right tools. Using a fire-resistant metal ash shovel, scoop up the old ash, then place into a fire-resistant metal can with a tight fitting lid. We like this one!Then, take the container outside away from combustibles, including your home’s deck; wet the ashes, and then cover with the lid. Hot coals in a pile of ashes can last up to 4 days, so let the ashes cool for at least that long.Bonus Safety Tips:NEVER keep the metal can in or near your home; keeping it at least 10 feet away.NEVER use a paper bag, cardboard box, or plastic trash bag to dispose of ashes.NEVER use a vacuum cleaner to pick up ashes.NEVER place the metal container next to the firewood pile, against the garage, on or under a wooden deck or under a porch.DisposalFinding a suitable disposal site is the next challenge. Many people use old fireplace ash for compost. So, a great place for disposal could include your yard, garden or flower beds.Bonus Safety Tips:ALWAYS make sure you survey the disposal area to look for any additional hazards before disposing ashes.ALWAYS make sure all dry leaves have been removed.ALWAYS make sure the garden or flower bed is away from the house.ALWAYS moisten the area before disposing cooled ash.ALWAYS keep the metal can at least 10 feet away from your home.How Woodard Can HelpDid you know that Woodard is St. Louis‘ preferred provider of 24/7 emergency water, smoke, and fire restoration services for residential, commercial, and institutional facilities? For more information, get an estimate.