HARTFORD, CT (WCBS 880) – It’s cold outside and that will have a lot of people flocking to their fireplaces, but beware, there could be danger above.

WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau On The Story

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Checking your chimney for buildup of creosote is a critical preventive step, says Dave Burns, the owner of August West Chimney Sweeps in Fairfield County.

He says creosote needs to be removed usually once a year.

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“Creosote is a resinated version of the wood that it originally came from, and it’s very flammable. It can burn explosively if it catches on fire,” he told WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau.

Burns says make certain the fireplace screen is sized properly for the hearth and that it remains closed even after the fire is out.

He points out that the embers can continue to smolder for days afterward, and a downdraft from the chimney can easily spark them up.

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Do you have any tips for staying safe during the winter? Share them in the comments section below!