The Santa Barbara County Fire Department and the Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District has announced tips for cleaner fireplace burning and safer homes. As the weather cools, and the holiday season approaches, it is important to remember that fireplace fires can cause emergencies, and breathing wood smoke is bad for the lungs and hearts.

Follow these suggestions for a safer and healthier community:

1. Don’t burn trash. Don’t burn: plastics, chemicals, wrapping paper, magazines or colored or coated papers (including newspaper inserts, junk mail, and so on). Also don’t burn charcoal, coal or holiday greens.

2. Be a good neighbor and notice smoke. Build small hot fires rather than large smoldering ones. Use seasoned hard woods that burn hot and provide complete combustion. Avoid “roaring” fires. They can start chimney fires and can lead to overheating of wall or roof materials.

3. Save your fireplace or wood stove for special occasions.

4. Use a gas log if possible.

5. Have your chimney inspected and cleaned regularly by a professional chimney sweep.

6. Never use gasoline, charcoal lighter or other fuel to light or relight a fire because the vapors can explode.

7. Do not allow small children near the fireplace.

8. Never leave a fire unattended. Make sure the fire is completely out before going to bed or leaving the house.

9. Be sure no flammable materials hang down from or decorate your mantel.

10. Make sure you have basic fire safety equipment. Keep a type ABC fire extinguisher near the fireplace, install a screen that completely covers the fireplace opening, equip your house with smoke detectors and use a spark arrester on top of your chimney.

For more information, see http://www.sbcfire.com and http://www.OurAir.org.