As temperatures drop, residents may make more use of fireplaces and wood-burning stoves.
While useful sources of warmth, these items can also be dangerous if not used properly. Chief Dan Ritchey, of the Reno Volunteer Fire Department, said keeping them clean is crucial.
"The first thing is to keep the chimney clean or creosote can build up and catch on fire and crack the liner and cause the fire to spread outside the chimney," he said.
According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America's Web site, www.csia.org, creosote is the residue on the inner walls of a chimney and it is highly combustible.
Steven Boggs, owner of Boggs Chimney Service in Stockport, said fires should not be left to simmer.
"You need to burn fires warm," he said. "Try to burn a wood stove between 350 and 550 degrees to keep creosote from building up."
Fireplace and wood-burning stove safety tips:
Allow clearance from combustible materials.
Place a wood stove on an approved stove board.
Open the flue before lighting a fire, and don't close the flue while a fire is still smoldering.
Use a fireplace screen .
Don't start a fire with lighter fluid or gasoline.
There should not be carpet, a rug or exposed wood flooring less than three feet in front of a fireplace.
When turning on the gas on a gas fireplace, strike the match first.
Only burn dry, seasoned wood.
Dispose of cooled ashes in a closed metal container outside and away from the home.
Do not leave a burning fire unattended.
Source: Ohio Department of Commerce.
Ritchey said it's a good idea to keep a screen in front of an open fire.
"That'll keep sparks from coming out and catching the carpet or the floor on fire," he said.
Ritchey and Boggs said attention should also be paid to the condition of the wood being burned.
"The drier the wood, the better it is," said Ritchey.
The Ohio Department of Commerce suggests disposing cooled ashes in a closed metal container outside and away from the home.
It is also important to keep combustible materials away from fireplaces and wood stoves, said Boggs.
"Make sure there are 18 inches from the loading door to anything combustible because sparks will pop out when you open the door," he said.
The CSIA Web site recommends using a chimney fire extinguisher on a fireplace or wood burning stove that is on fire. Ritchey said it is never a good idea to put water on a fireplace or wood stove fire that is out of control.
"Do not throw water in any fireplace or stove," he said. "That can cause steam build up, which will crack the chimney and cause more problems."
According to the Ohio Department of Commerce, there were 557 heating-related fires in Ohio homes in 2008. Eight people died and 34 were injured in these fires. Officials say there are steps that can be taken to reduce the chance of this happening in your home.