National Fire Prevention Week is this week, and we’d like to share some basic fireplace safety tips with our neighbors in St. Louis and surrounding areas. If you’ll be lighting yours up as our weather turns cooler in the coming weeks, check out our tips below! The National Fire Protection Association recommends having your wood-burning or gas chimney inspected and cleaned annually by a certified chimney specialist in order to remove any built-up debris. For a list of certified specialists, visit www.CSIA.org. Make sure the mantel and area around the hearth is clear of debris, decorations, and combustible/flammable materials. You do not want anything accidentally catching on fire! Never start a fire with flammable liquids or burn trash, debris or cardboard boxes. As always, make sure that you have smoke detectors installed on every floor of your house as well as inside and outside bedrooms. Be sure to test the batteries monthly to ensure all alarms are working. For more tips on smoke alarm safety and to read about National Fire Prevention Week 2015’s theme “Hear the Beep Where You Sleep,” click here. Do not leave a fire unattended, and remember to put it out before leaving the house or going to bed. Pay close attention to the embers to ensure that there are no remaining red embers going that could be at risk for catching fire again. Keep an eye on small children when a fire is burning, and keep them away from fireplace tools. Installing a childproof fireplace gate is a great idea, so there is no risk of injury. If your wood-burning fireplace has glass doors, leave them open when burning a fire. This helps ensure that the fire receives enough air and prevents creosote (a gummy substance created during the burning process) from building up in the chimney and presenting an unnecessary fire hazard. Further, when the glass doors are open, be sure the metal mesh screen is closed, which will help contain the embers. If at all possible, avoid using soft, moist wood, which accelerates the buildup of creosote. Seasoned hardwood is preferable. If you have an unvented gas fireplace, make sure you open at least one window for air circulation.