The Contra Costa County Fire Protection District is reminding people that, with low overnight temperatures and more wet weather likely on the way, it’s a good time to think about fireplace safety.

The district encourages residents to have their flue inspected annually, to never leave a fire unattended, and to ensure smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are working.

They recommend keeping a fire extinguisher nearby and to store firewood at least 30 feet from a home.

(Image courtesy of Contra Costa County Fire Protection District)

Chimneys should have mesh screen caps on top, a stovepipe thermometer to monitor flue temperature, air inlets that are always kept open, and mesh gates to keep embers from escaping. The hearth should be completely clear of debris.

If applicable, the glass doors should be open when starting the fire and during the fire if someone is nearby to supervise. Otherwise, doors should be closed to allow the fan, if applicable, to help heat the home. They should also be closed when the fire is out.

Outside, people should make sure no tree branches hang above the chimney vent. Ashes should be completely removed from the fireplace only when cool. If a fireplace doesn’t have an ash pit connected to the hearth, fire officials say to keep cool ashes in a metal container a safe distance from the home — at least 10 feet. Pour water over ashes before throwing them away.

Cold weather coming

The National Weather Service has issued an extended freeze warning for parts of the Bay Area during the overnight hours and each morning through Sunday.

Temperatures are expected to be coldest in the inland valleys, and some parts of the East Bay can expect the mercury to hover between 25 and 32 degrees.

The rest of the Bay Area is under a less-severe freeze watch, with low temperatures expected in the mid to upper 30s Wednesday morning. Conditions should warm slightly from Thursday morning onward.

More information on fireplace safety and other fire prevention tips can be found on the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District website.