Holidays are a time for gathering together with family and friends, and enjoying elaborate meals, drinks and cheerful conversation. But holidays are also a dangerous time for home fires. With cooking, plenty of holiday candles and warm, glowing hearths, the occurrence of home fires more than doubles the average on Christmas day. To help you safely enjoy your hearth this holiday season, here are some good holiday fire safety tips to abide by.
Keep décor away from the fire.
We tend to increase the level of décor around our homes during the holidays, but it’s important to keep those beautiful holiday decorations and wintertime décor well away from your hearth. Keep pillows, blankets and any other flammable or meltable holiday decorations at least three feet from your hearth. It’s not just open-hearth fireplaces that pose a risk; décor, pillows or furniture that are placed too near a closed woodstove or gas fireplace can ignite from the extreme heat the fireplace can generate.
Hang your stockings with care.
What would a holiday mantel be without stockings? If you use your hearth during the holidays, you might want to forego the tradition of hanging your stockings by the hearth, as the dangling stockings can easily catch fire. If you do prefer to hang your stockings from the mantel, you should remove them to a safe distance from the hearth before you light a fire. This safety tip doesn’t just go for stockings. Beware of any décor, such as garlands or ribbon, that drape from the mantel too near the hearth opening.
Don’t burn holiday waste in the fireplace.
As you unwrap presents or open Christmas boxes or even take down your live Christmas tree, it can be tempting to throw these burnable objects into your roaring fireplace. This is a big hazard, however; paper or cardboard could cause a flare-up that’s too hot for your firebox or chimney liner to handle, leading the fire to spread from the fireplace to your home. The wood from Christmas trees, meanwhile, is too wet and not suited for burning in a fireplace. It will quickly fill your chimney with flammable creosote.
Make sure your chimney’s clean.
For many homeowners, the fireplace really only gets used each Christmas season. If you haven’t used your hearth since last winter, make sure you have your chimney swept and inspected before you light your yule log. A chimney sweeping ensures that the chimney is free of flammable creosote or dangerous debris, while the inspection verifies that the chimney is free from weaknesses or damage that could prevent it from doing its job.
Have your smoke alarms in place.
Knowing that the holidays, and winter, are peak season for home fires, it’s crucial that you have working smoke detectors throughout your home. You should have at least one smoke detector on every floor of your home and in every sleeping area. Don’t forget to check the batteries to be sure that the smoke alarms will sound in an emergency.
If you need help ensuring the safety of your fireplace and chimney this holiday season, call Environmental Chimney Service today! We can clean and inspect your fireplace and chimney to make sure they are in good working order and advise you on fire safety and your hearth.