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Fireplace Safety Tips During the Holidays

Fireplace and Christmas Tree SafetyThe holiday season is a wonderful time to light up your fireplace, but it can also be the most dangerous time. According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), residential house fires nearly double during the holiday season. Fireplaces are one of the culprits. You can keep your home and loved ones safe by following these 5 safety tips.

#1 – Do safety checks.

Test your fire detector and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure that they are working. Make sure that you have a fully charged fire extinguisher in your home. If you haven’t already, call on a chimney sweep to professionally clean out soot and creosote. A flammable chemical compound, creosote, builds up in chimneys during every burning season. Even small amounts of it can easily ignite. That’s why it is critical to have your chimney cleaned, at least once a year, in between burning seasons to reduce the risk of a deadly house fire.

#2 – Put a protective barrier in front of the fire.

People and animals are naturally drawn to a fireplace because of its warmth and the calming sound of crackling wood. Putting a fire screen or gate around the fireplace is the best way to prevent your loved ones and furry friends from being burned by a stray spark. It will also prevent curious kids from sticking their hands into the fire. Even with a gate or fire screen, it is still important to encourage your guests to stand or lounge a few feet away.

#3 – Keep an eye on the fire.

Fireplace screen safety Christmas treeChildren and pets should never be left unattended in a room with a burning fireplace. Rambunctious pets and curious kids can get themselves into trouble in the blink of an eye. With a fireplace, that kind of trouble can come with a big cost. The fire can also get out of control if you aren’t watchful. It is a good rule to never leave your home or go to bed while it is still burning.

#4 – Protect your decorations.

Burnt stockings and singed garland don’t make good decorations. They are also serious fire hazards. Before you light a fire in your fireplace, make sure to remove flammable decorations from the mantel and from around the fireplace. Even with a fireplace screen, there is a chance that a stray ember could escape and ignite something nearby. The heat from the fire can also damage your decorations and presents. There should be at least three feet between your fireplace and nearby furniture, decorations (including stockings), boxes of presents and your Christmas tree.

#5 – Only burn seasoned firewood.

Chopping up your Christmas tree and tossing it into your fireplace the day after isn’t a good idea. Wood needs to dry out for at least 6 months to be able to safely and efficiently burn. Burning green wood, like your Christmas tree, will produce a lot of smoke and particulates that are bad for the air quality in your home and outside. Using leftover gift-wrapping paper as kindling is also a bad idea. Most wrapping papers have dyes and chemicals in them that aren’t in plain paper. Burning it can release these chemicals into the air and hurt your lungs. Sticking with seasoned wood will keep the air in your home healthy.

Want to learn more about fireplace maintenance? Check out more on our blog or give us a call to speak with a chimney expert.

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