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Many people enjoy having a fireplace in their home. Not only does it provide a relaxing ambiance, but it cuts back on utility costs. As the first cold nights of the season roll around, many are stocking their wood supply and looking forward to lighting the first fire in the fireplace. But if you burn wood in your home, don't light a match until you review some safety tips to make sure a beautiful fire doesn't turn into a homeowners insurance claim.

  • Have your fireplace and chimney inspected and cleaned by a professional every year.

  • Move all decorations and other objects away from the fireplace hearth.

  • Use a metal mesh screen when a fire is burning to keep flying embers in the fireplace.

  • If installed, open the glass door while a fire is burning (which discourages creosote buildup), but closed when a fire is out to keep out the downdraft.

  • Burn only seasoned hardwood.

  • Never burn boxes or trash.

  • Don't use any sort of accelerator like lighter fluid.

  • Dispose of ashes after they have cooled in a metal container and empty it far away from any nearby houses or buildings.

  • Install a mesh screen at the top of your chimney.

  • Trim any branches hanging over the chimney or roof area.

A fire in the fireplace provides a warm and cozy atmosphere, but fires are also responsible for over 35 percent of house fires each year in rural areas. Follow these safety tips and make sure you have a working smoke detector on each floor of your home to ensure your family's safety during the colder months.

Stay safe this winter. Call TCU Insurance Agency at (800) 772-8043 for more information on Indiana home insurance.

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