Hurricane Preparedness Week is May 24-30, with the hurricane season officially starting on June 1. You might not think of “chimneys” in the same breath as you do these severe storms that form in the warm waters — until you realize that along with coastal surge, comes flooding rains and extreme winds!

It’s those winds that bother us, because storms can impact homes where the fireplace is used. Catastrophic damage occurs to properties during hurricanes, but so can less obvious dangers, such as cracks in a chimney wall or the slight shifting of the chimney structure due to extended wind and rain exposure.

MORE: Hurricane preparedness tips courtesy of the website On the House.

The nonprofit Chimney Safety Institute of America says it is important for homeowners to consider how they plan to use their home heating systems or fireplaces in the hours and days after landfall, because potential damage to chimneys could cause their living space to be exposed to unnecessary risks including dangerous gases. Additionally, there is the issue with water damage that can cause a leaky chimney to damage the home.

MORE FROM CSIA: Water and your masonry chimney

As the website Ready.Gov suggests in its helpful tipsheet on hurricane preparedness, Inspect your home for damage. “Take pictures … both of the building and its contents, for insurance purposes. If you have any doubts about safety, have your residence inspected by a qualified building inspector or structural engineer before entering.”

Don’t forget when scheduling an inspection of your home’s furnace venting system, chimney and fireplaces, it is important that you hire a Chimney Safety Institute of America Certified Chimney Sweep. [Click here to see our zip-code locator.] In the wake of disasters like a hurricane fly-by-night scam artists can move into a region, taking advantage of storm victims by pretending to offer contracted services for high or low prices.