Keep Fireplace Safety on your Winter Holiday Checklist
Shopping is often at the top of to-do lists during the holidays, and the season is filled with other pleasant distractions that can lead to neglect of fireplace safety. Families should be careful not to rush into lighting the fireplace for the purpose of creating the perfect holiday greeting card or just for some warmth and family time. First consider whether the chimney and fireplace have been properly maintained and are safe to use, so that the enjoyment of the holidays isn’t spoiled by a dangerous fire.
Peace of mind about the safe use of your fireplace during the holiday season can best be justifiably assured by having an annual chimney inspection by a qualified chimney technician. Fireplaces and wood stoves are beautiful and provide a special backdrop for Christmas scenes and other holiday celebrations, but it’s important to remember that fuel-burning appliances are also potential fire hazards. A chimney sweep can check to be sure that there are no obstructions and can identify any damage that needs to be addressed, such as a cracked chimney liner, which would need to be replaced before further use of the appliance.
One of the common causes of house fires is that people light a fire in the fireplace without having maintained the chimney, and problems in the chimney result in a dangerous and sometimes deadly house fire. With the help of a chimney technician, prepare ahead of time for use of your fireplace; but don’t forget that there are special considerations for fireplace safety directly related to the holidays, such as the following:
- Prevent sparks from flying. Nothing is prettier during the holidays than a decorated fireplace mantle, including stockings hung by the chimney with care. It’s very important to make sure none of the combustible materials can catch fire when using your fireplace. A spark guard fireplace screen can do an excellent job of preventing sparks that could start a home fire by igniting Christmas decorations.
- Watch out for combustibles. Speaking of stockings, it’s okay to hang them from the mantle, but not when the fireplace is lit. The heat alone could cause a fire, in addition to the possibility of a stray spark catching a stocking on fire. Presents around the Christmas tree and decorations such as baskets and pine cones need to be kept a distance of at least 3 feet away from the fire.
- Make your Christmas tree fire retardant. A Christmas tree by a fireplace is a wonderful sight for the holidays, but it can also be a fire hazard. Start by keeping the tree at least three feet away from the fireplace. Also, if you have a real tree, make sure it is well-watered. You don’t want a giant matchstick in your house that could start an inferno! You can purchase a product at many gardening supply stores that will make your fresh Christmas tree fire retardant. Just ask an attendant; the product contains ammonium sulfate. Keep in mind that the product will not make the tree completely fireproof.
- Use candles safely. Any type of fire can create a fire hazard during the holidays, including candles on your fireplace mantle. Be sure candle flames are safely shielded so that they don’t ignite combustible materials.
- Keep pets and children safe. A fireplace is an attraction for pets and little ones. As needed, put up safety gates around the fireplace.
Have you scheduled your annual chimney inspection? Contact our chimney professionals today to help secure a winter holiday season that is complete with steps to ensure fireplace safety.