‘Tis the season! Many of us will soon be gathering together with our loved ones. It’s time to put up the Christmas tree, Hannukkah bush, outdoor lights, garlands, and mistletoe.
The fireplace is often a centerpoint for holiday decorations and gatherings. If you’re planning to put up holiday decor near your fireplace this year, you need to take some precautions to avoid safety risks.
5 Holiday Fireplace Safety Tips
Don’t Burn Gift Wrap
Wrapping paper, colored paper, and cardboard often contains additives that are dangerous when burned. The chemicals used in these products can make your fire hot enough to trigger a chimney fire.
Keep the Christmas Tree Away for Fireplace Safety
Indoor tree fires don’t happen very often, but when they do, they tend to be very serious. Place your tree a safe distance away from the fireplace, just in case. You should also keep wrapped packages, candles, and other flammable items away from the fireplace.
Real Christmas trees can turn into fire hazards if they dry out too much. Keeping the water reservoir full not only keeps your tree looking healthy longer, but also reduces the fire risk in your home.
If you’re buying an artificial tree this year, look for a fire resistant option. All trees can burn, but you can extinguish fire resistant trees faster.
Don’t Burn the Christmas Tree When the Season Ends
Your Christmas tree may be made out of wood, but that doesn’t mean it would be good fuel for your wood fireplace. It’s not a good idea to chop up your Christmas tree and use it as firewood unless you give it time to dry properly. Overly moist firewood does not burn well and could even be a hazard.
Be Careful When Hanging Stockings
Fireplace mantels are a beautiful place to display holiday decor. Unfortunately, many holiday decorations are made from flammable materials.
If you’re hanging stockings above an in-use fireplace, make sure they’re hanging securely and consider moving them away when a fire is burning. Don’t place anything close to the heat.
Be Careful When Hanging Garland
Like other Christmas decorations, garland is flammable and can be a fire hazard if you hang it near flames. Keep garland away from your fireplace, or at the very least make sure it’s securely attached away from the flames.
Other Fireplace Safety Tips to Keep In Mind
Keep Children and Pets Away From the Fireplace
Even if your kids know not to play with the fire, accidents can happen when they’re playing nearby (or just too curious). Parents should try to keep fireplace tools, lighters, and matches out of young children’s reach.
A fireplace guard or modified gate can help you keep smaller members of the family away from the heat. You can also put up a safety screen to keep kids from getting burned on the hot glass in front of your wood or gas fireplace.
Check That the Flue Is Open
It’s all too easy to forget to open the flue or damper. You need the flue open to draw smoke and other harmful combustion byproducts out of the house.
If the flue is closed while a fire is burning, smoke and toxic byproducts will flow into your home and the fire will struggle.
Burn Seasoned Wood
Fireplace wood needs to be extremely dry to burn well. The less moisture there is, the less soot, smoke, and creosote buildup you’ll get.
If you’re concerned about smoke, you can also try using smaller pieces of wood. Smaller pieces burn faster and produce less smoke than larger ones when you place them on a grate.
Use Fireplace Safety Tools
Don’t use your hands to deal with burning logs, even if you’re touching a part of a log that hasn’t yet caught fire. It’s easy to get burned or blistered from the heat.
Use fireplace tools like a poker/stoker, spade, and/or tongs with your wood-burning fireplace.
Be Careful With Ashes
If you have a wood fireplace, you will need to clean out the ashes from previous fires. You should be no more than 1 inch of ash at the base of your fireplace – a thicker layer can restrict the air supply to the logs and cause more smoke.
Wait a while before disposing of ashes from your fireplace, and wear gloves when you do it. Sometimes there are unexpected hot coals hidden inside the ashes — hot coals that might melt your plastic bucket.
Keep a Window Cracked Open
It might seem strange to let cold air into the house when you’re trying to warm up with a fire, but opening your windows and vents will help your fire burn more cleanly. The fresh air coming in will go up the chimney, and you’ll get less smoke in the house.
Get the Chimney Cleaned to Ensure Fireplace Safety
The National Fire Prevention Association recommends getting your chimney cleaned and inspected once a year. Cleaning helps you get rid of hazardous creosote, soot, and glazing in your chimney.
Use a Chimney Cap
A chimney cap can help you prevent damage from weather, nesting animals, and debris. All of these things can cause damage and block your chimney so that carbon monoxide flows into the house.
Keep the Area Around the Fireplace Clear
You don’t want anything flammable near your fireplace. Furniture, drapes, books, newspapers, and other items should be kept away from the flames. This includes rugs – there is no such thing as a truly nonflammable or flame-resistant rug, whatever the label says.
Your fireplace manual should tell you how far away to keep flammable items.
Check Your Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
This isn’t just a fireplace safety tip, but a general safety recommendation. Smoke detectors need their batteries replaced every now and then. Most detectors will make a loud chirp sound when the battery needs to be replaced.
Got More Fireplace Safety Questions?
If you have questions about fire safety or are looking to remodel your fireplace, get in touch with Four Day Fireplace today. Our experienced technicians can help you stay safe and find the best fireplace design for your home. You can also check out our blog for more fireplace safety and remodeling tips.