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Keep warm and safe this winter with these 10 tips for fireplace safety from American Family Insurance

(Madison, Wis.) (February 9, 2015) —On a cold winter night, a warm fire in the fireplace is just the thing to ward off the season's chill. Before you light the first fire of the season, make sure your fireplace is safe to use.

Whether you use a fireplace for heat or that cozy feeling, here are some tips to keep you and your home safe this winter, and to keep your fireplace burning brightly and safely.

  • Have your chimney cleaned and inspected at least once a year by a chimney specialist.
  • If you burn wood, only burn dry, seasoned wood, not scrap wood, treated wood or trash.
  • Always have a fireplace screen in place.
  • Create a three-foot "safety zone" around any fireplace that is free of flammable material.
  • Never use flammable liquids to start a fire.
  • Extinguish the fire before going to bed or leaving the house.
  • Don't close the damper until the embers have completely stopped burning.
  • Make sure all vent pipes extend at least three feet above your roof.
  • Always have working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in all levels of your home - especially sleeping areas.
  • Have working fire extinguishers on hand and within easy reach.

Outside of Your Home

Fireplace safety extends outside of your home as well. Make sure your chimney has a cap on it to prevent rain, debris, small animals and birds from getting into your fireplace. Also, trim any branches that may drop leaves or twigs into your chimney, creating a fire hazard.

During the chilly months ahead, take a few precautions so you can enjoy the warmth and coziness your fireplace can bring.

Check out amfam.com for more fireplace safety tips.

About American Family Insurance
Madison, Wis.– based American Family Insurance is the nation's third-largest mutual property/casualty insurance company and ranks 373rd on the Fortune 500 list. The company sells American Family-brand products, including auto, homeowners, life, business and farm/ranch insurance, through its exclusive agents in 19 states. American Family affiliates (The General, Homesite and AssureStart) also provide options for consumers who want to manage their insurance matters directly over the Internet or by phone. Web: www.amfam.com; Facebook: www.facebook.com/amfam; Twitter: www.twitter.com/amfam. Google+ plus.google.com/+amfam/

News media contact:
Janet Masters
Media Relations
(608) 242-4100, ext. 30409