Use the Christmas Fireplace Safety Checklist below to keep your family safe around the fireplace during the winter holidays.
Are your Christmas stockings hung on the fireplace mantel with care?
In the famous Christmas poem, the stockings were not just “hung by the chimney;” they were hung “with care.” Even in the midst of describing a nocturnal visit from Santa, the author noted one important aspect of Christmas fireplace safety!
Below are some essential Christmas fireplace safety issues to keep in mind during the holidays:
Yes, you can hang the Christmas stockings from the fireplace mantel but ONLY when there is no fire in the fireplace. Plan on arranging safe places you can move the stockings to when you want to light your fireplace. Some people move the stockings to small hooks concealed on a stairway banister, on a room divider, on a book case, on the molding around an archway between two rooms, or on the inside doors of the television cabinet.
Place Christmas trees safely away from the fireplace. Three feet away from the fireplace is the minimum recommended distance. No one wants a forest fire, even if it is a solo tree fire, to ruin the holiday spirit!
Apply a Christmas tree fire retardant. Reduce the flammability of your Christmas tree by applying a commercial Christmas tree fire retardant or a home-made fire retardant.
Ammonium sulfate, a fertilizer found in the gardening section of hardware stores, can make your fresh Christmas tree fire retardant (though not fire proof). For an average-sized cut tree, mix 9 pounds of Ammonium Sulphate and 2 gallons of water in a bucket. Set the tree in the bucket for 48 hours in a cool, dark place (such as an unheated garage) before bringing the tree inside to decorate.
Christmas presents, too, need to be kept at a safe distance – three feet – from a burning fire. That wrapping paper can go up in flames quickly! Fireplace Gift Baskets are delightful holiday gifts and add a festive charm to the hearth, but because they contain fire starters such as pine cone starters and fatwood fire starters, you will certainly want to keep them not too close to the actual fire.
When decorating your fireplace mantel for Christmas, keep combustible material such as holiday greenery and ribbons safely on the fireplace mantel, not draping over the edge of the mantel. A stray fireplace spark can ignite holiday decorations exposed over the fireplace mantel’s edge unless your fireplace screen is a spark guard.
Fireplace spark guards (also know as spark arresters) are a type of fireplace screen specifically designed to prevent this. Providing more spark protection for your room than most fireplace screens, the top of spark guards’ screens curve up and seal against the fireplace surround. These spark guard fireplace screens protect your home from sparks that might try to shoot up and out of the fire.
Candles add a lovely touch to Christmas fireplace mantel decorations. Consider using electric candles. If you are using real candles, to protect your mantel decorations from candle flames, use only candles with glass protection around the flames. Votive Candles in votive holders work safely on fireplace mantels. Votive candles and jar candles shield their surroundings from the flames. For other candles, consider using hurricane candle shades, available from craft stores, to safeguard your mantel decorations from candle flames.
Young children and pets are charmed by the flickering flames and warmth of a fireplace fire. Fireplace safety gates (as seen at right) and fireplace child guard screens (such as the one below) are designed to keep two-footed as well as four-footed little ones at a safe distance from fireplaces and wood stoves. The safety gates have the advantage of allowing adults easy access to the fireplace for tending the fire.
As Christmas gifts are unwrapped, do not burn the used wrapping paper in the fireplace. The colored papers can release toxic fumes when burned.
When it is time to take down the Christmas decorations, do not burn the Christmas tree in the fireplace. All that unseasoned pine could start a chimney fire! Instead, recycle it or haul it away.
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.