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Temperatures dropping may have people burning wood in their fireplace for the first time of the season, and chimneys that haven’t been swept can cause a fire hazard.

On average, 25,000 chimney fires occur every year in the United States and MyChimney reports these fires cause $125 million in property damage.

To ensure your home is safe, the Federal Emergency Management Agency recommends keeping a glass or metal screen in front of fireplaces to prevent sparks from jumping out. They also urge people to refrain from burning paper inside homes and never leave a fire unattended.

Decatur Fire and Rescue Fire Marshal Jason Jones also recommends checking in on family members and neighbors to make sure their chimneys are prepared for the winter.

“With this time of year the elderly are more apt to hypothermia,” Jason explained. “So, a lot of times you will have people who are not the quickest or agile to get away from the fire if it were to happen; and they are so close to the heating source whether that’s a fireplace, kerosene heater or even an electric type heater.”

The National Fire Protection Association recommends having chimneys, fireplaces, and vents checked at least once a year.

Jones echoes this and also suggests getting your chimney checked earlier in the year when temperatures are warm so you aren’t struggling to get an appointment at the last minute.