Nothing sounds better than curling up by a warm fire these days. But before you break out your supplies, it’s important to make sure you can enjoy your fireplace safely. Here are some tips you should remember before lighting your hearth.

Check your chimney

Have a certified chimney sweep inspect and clean the chimney at least once a year, or after about 80 fires.

Only burn firewood

Burn logs that have been split, stacked and dried for eight to 12 months. Hardwoods that will burn the longest include hickory, white oak, beech, sugar maple and white ash. Never burn construction scraps or painted wood, which could release chemicals into your home.

Clear the area

Make sure the area around the fireplace is clear of anything that could be flammable, like furniture, drapes or books. In fact, keeping a nonflammable rug in front of the fireplace will prevent sparks from melting or damaging your carpeting.

Open the flue

Before starting a fire, make sure the damper or flue is open. This will ensure smoke is drawn out of the house. Also, keep a window open to prevent the room from getting smoky.

Never leave a fire unattended

Even if adults are near, children should not play near the fire or with any fire tools. Before leaving the house or going to bed, make sure the fire is out.

Only burn for a few hours

Although fireplaces are warm, they should not be used as furnaces. Only burn a fire for a short time—no longer than five hours.

With these reminders, you’ll be able to enjoy your fireplace without any worries!