There are general fire safety precautions everyone should follow, regardless of where you live and what time of year it is. However, during the holiday season, there are additional precautions we all must take to ensure that this festive time remains just that. Taking the time to review these fire safety precautions with everyone in your home can help you create a safer and more secure living environment for you, your family, and all of your holiday guests. Remember, fire safety isn’t just one person’s responsibility but, instead, is everyone’s. Responsible homeowners know it’s not a question of luck but a matter of planning ahead.
A CLEAN FIREPLACE IS A SAFER FIREPLACE
This is a time for celebration, which also means more cooking, home decorating, entertaining, and an increased risk of fire and accidents. According to the National Fire Protection Association , 30% of home fire and 38% of home fire deaths occur during the months of December, January, and February. Heating fires account for 36% of residential home fires in rural areas every year. Often these fires are due to creosote buildup in chimneys and stovepipes. All home heating systems require regular maintenance to function safely and efficiently. Having your chimney system inspected and cleaned annually by a certified chimney specialist is of the utmost importance.
NO MORE DANGLING DECORATIONS
Once you’ve had your chimney system services and cleaned, you can focus on the more holiday-specific safety precautions. When decorating your fireplace mantel for Christmas, keep combustible material (e.g., holiday greenery and ribbons) safely on the mantel, not draping over the edge. One stray fireplace spark can easily ignite any decorations that are exposed over the mantel’s edge. As Twas the Night Before Christmas goes, “the stockings were hung by the chimney with care”; the last two words are the most important: with care. You can hang Christmas decorations from the fireplace mantel as long as there’s no fire in the fireplace. Plan ahead and arrange a safe place to which you can move your stockings and/or any other necessary decorations when you’re ready to light the fireplace.
CHRISTMAS TREE SAFETY
It’s also best to place your Christmas tree safely away from the fireplace; three feet away is the minimum recommended distance. Many homeowners aren’t aware that they can make their fresh Christmas tree fire retardant (not fireproof) by using ammonium sulfate, a fertilizer that can be found in the gardening section of most hardware stores. For an average-sized fresh cut tree, you’ll need to mix 9 pounds of the fertilizer with 2 gallons of water in a bucket. Once that’s done, you’ll need to set the tree in the bucket in a cool, dark place (an unheated garage is ideal for this task) for 48 hours before bringing the tree into your home to decorate.
WATCH THOSE CHRISTMAS PRESENTS
It is recommended that you keep Christmas presents at a safe distance (at least 3 feet) from a burning fire. Wrapping paper can go up in flames almost instantaneously! Those beautiful fireside gift baskets that are quite popular this time of year because they add a festive charm to your heart are another potential accident waiting to happen. This is due in large part to the fact that they contain fire starters—fast-burning fatwood, color cones and/or wax-bottom fire starter cones. Because of this, you’ll definitely want to keep them a safe distance from the actual fire.
Teaching everyone in your home about fire safety and prevention can be one of the most important things you will ever do as a homeowner. The winter holidays, with family, friends, and home taking center stage, are a time of heavy fireplace use. Keep your hearth both merry and safe by following these simple but important Christmas fireplace safety policies. The service professionals at Old Smokey’s Fireplace and Chimney are here to guide you and assist in any way possible. Please don’t hesitate to contact us should any questions or issues arise. Have a safe and happy holiday season!