Fireplace Safety Tips Around the Holidays

Young mother and her two little daughters sitting by a fireplace in a cozy dark living room on Christmas eve

Christmas is a special time of year for friends and family to gather around the fireplace. More than at any other time of the year, the fireplace is the focal point of holiday celebrations. Read these simple tips to make sure you don’t ruin the festivities by having a visit from the fire department!

Fireplace Safety Tips

  • Feel free to hang the stockings from the mantel when you’re not using the fireplace, but remember to remove the stockings when having a fire. Have an alternate location to hang the stockings. I can guarantee you that Santa will still be able to find them!
  • Nothing should be hanging over the edge of the mantel including garland, tinsel, or Christmas lights. Heat from your fireplace rises and having combustible materials above the fireplace opening is asking for trouble.
  • Christmas trees should be a minimum of three feet from the fireplace, Christmas stockingpreferably as much to the side of the fireplace as possible.
  • Keep combustible items off the exterior hearth (the area in front of and to the sides of the fireplace opening). This includes wicker baskets with decorative pine cones, ribbons, and pine tree boughs. Also, don’t ever store your firewood and newspapers on the hearth either.
  • The firescreen should be closed during an active fire, otherwise embers can catch that Christmas tree or your carpet on fire.
  • Time your fires so that the fire is completely out before going to bed. If you have glass doors, close the glass doors before going to bed.
  • Don’t burn the Christmas wrapping paper in your fireplace. The ink in the wrapping paper can be toxic when burned, and the fly-away embers can plug up a chimney cap or, if you don’t have a cap, can catch a roof or nearby trees on fire.
  • If your Christmas tree is dried out and dropping needles, it’s time to take it down. Growing up as a child, our family tradition was to leave the Christmas tree up until after the Epiphany (January 6). By then the Christmas tree was completely dried out and a fire hazard to be sure.
  • Don’t look at that Christmas tree as a source of firewood after the holidays. The sap from the trees can literally explode when put into a fireplace. Instead, put your tree to good use and recycle it at the local recycling location in your area.

According to a report by the National Fire Protection Association, from 2013 to 2017, an average of 160 reported home structure fires per year were caused by Christmas trees, resulting in an annual average of three deaths, 15 injuries, and $10 million in property damage.

By following these simple rules, you can be guaranteed of special memories, sitting around your fireplace during the holidays.

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