(HealthDay News) -- Many homeowners enjoy relaxing by a hot fire at the end of a cold day.
But a crackling fire can lead to a disaster, especially if there are small kids at home and some basic safety rules aren't followed, the American Academy of Pediatrics says.
Here are the academy's suggestions for safer use of your home fireplace:
- If possible, keep a window cracked open while the fire burns.
- Make sure the damper or flue is open before starting a fire. Do not close the damper until the embers have completely stopped burning.
- Use dry and well-aged wood. Wet or green wood triggers more smoke and soot buildup in the chimney.
- Clean out ashes before every fire. Ash at the base of the fireplace should be kept to 1 inch or less. A thicker layer restricts the air supply to logs, resulting in more smoke.
- Have your chimney checked annually by a professional.
- Keep the area around the fireplace clear of anything that could catch fire.
- Never leave a fire unattended. Make sure it is completely out before going to bed or leaving the home. If you leave the room while the fire is burning or the fireplace is still hot, take your small child with you.
- A safety screen can be installed in front of the fireplace to reduce a child's risk of burns from touching hot glass.
- Put fireplace tools, accessories, lighters and matches out of a child's reach.
- Install both smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Test them monthly and change the batteries at least once a year.
- Keep a fire extinguisher nearby.
- Talk openly with kids about the dangers of a fireplace and the heat it makes.