Decorating for the holidays is a cherished tradition for many. Since fireplaces tend to be focal points in any room they grace, it makes sense that we’d want to give them a little holiday TLC and make our homes feel extra festive. While adding any touches of holiday cheer, however, it’s also crucial to keep safety in mind.
Good design shouldn’t only consider aesthetics, but should prioritize safety, as well!
Fortunately, you don’t need to sacrifice beauty and festivity for safety. Just be aware of some practical considerations, and continue to be mindful of proper clearances and other safety “musts.” Questions for our team? We’re here to help. Call or reach out online now.
Fireplace Decorating With Safety in Mind
First things first, be sure to book you annual inspection long before putting your fireplace to use – and before decorating, too, and we’ll need a clear space to work. Then, as you decorate, keeping the following in mind.
🔥 Clear the Area
Begin by ensuring that the area around your fireplace or wood stove is free of any flammable materials from the get-go. This includes furniture, curtains, books, pillows, and any other decorations or furnishings. A clutter-free zone around the fireplace helps prevent accidents.
A three-foot clearance is recommended for safety.
🔥 Maintain a Safe Distance
As you add decorative items for the holidays, make sure that your three foot safe space is maintained. While fireplace mantels are sometimes made of flammable materials, these ought to be a safe distance from the firebox – yet beneath the mantel can still get quite hot.
It’s not safe to let anything drape below the mantel if you intend to use your fireplace. This includes spooky Halloween cobwebs, harvest or Christmas garlands, and any other item that could hang down. If it just doesn’t feel like Christmas without stockings dangling from the mantel, be diligent about removing them every single time you light a fire in the fireplace – and don’t replace them until the fire is completely extinguished and ashes are cooled.
Not only are draping decorations at risk of getting too hot and catching fire, they’re also more likely to fall directly in front of the open flame. Be sure that any decoration you use is stable and firmly in place to avoid the risk of falling.
🔥 Opt for Non-Flammable Materials
When choosing decorative items, look for flame resistant or non-flammable materials for an extra measure of safety consciousness. While you should still maintain proper clearances, flame-resistant decorations will be less susceptible to burning.
Non-flammable decorations (such as those made of metal, glass, ceramic, or stone) will be even safer choices, provided they don’t contain components that are flammable.
Keep in mind that decorations that are securely on the mantle can still be affected by heat. Real wax candles, for instance, may soften and melt, and live plants may dry out quickly. Consider opting for LED candles as a safer alternative.
🔥 Don’t Tempt your Pets
Certain decorative items can make a mantle look attractive to pets – think those involving motion or certain scents. While you want your pets to feel comfortable at home, it’s better to keep this particular area inhospitable to your cat or dog. Having your pet too near the wood stove or fireplace isn’t safe, and while cats can be nimble, all cat owners know they also have a certain knack for knocking things over.
To help keep the fireplace area clear, don’t place tempting items near or over the fire if your pet may want to leap up to interact with them. If it looks like a toy, pets – or small children, for that matter – may want to treat them as such. These decorations may be better placed in another room.
🔥 Invest in a Fireplace Screen
A sturdy fireplace screen is an excellent safety investment.
Why? They’re designed to help prevent sparks and embers from escaping, especially from a traditional open fireplace.
🔥 Don’t Improperly Feed the Fire
Your fireplace or stove was designed with a particular fuel source in mind. But sometimes during the holidays we produce paper waste from packaging, and the fireplace can seem as good a place as any to dispose of it.
Don’t! Burning the wrong fuel in your fireplace isn’t as innocuous as it may seem – in fact, it can be downright dangerous. Some items may burn too hot or rapidly for your chimney to handle, and others may contain inks or other materials that release toxins when burned.
🔥 Supervise Open Flames of All Kinds
Whether candles or the fire in your fireplace, no open flame should be left burning unattended. Be sure to extinguish fire when leaving the room – it’s unsafe to leave it burning, and you won’t be there to enjoy it anyway!
🔥 Check Smoke Detectors
Even if you’ve ticked the boxes on other precautions, always ensure that your smoke detectors are in good working order and have fresh batteries. Early detection is crucial in any fire-related accidents.
It’s also prudent to keep an ABC fire extinguisher close at hand – and be sure you’re well versed in how to use it.
How Far Should a Christmas Tree Be From the Fireplace?
But the 3-foot minimum rule still applies in this case as well as with other decorative items.
If you prefer an artificial tree, look for one label “flame resistant.” If you love your live Christmas tree, be sure to keep it well-watered throughout the holiday season. These measures will help increase safety. But remember that, whether real or artificial, any tree can become a fire hazard in the wrong conditions or when placed too close to an open flame or heat source.
Stay Safer This Holiday Season – Work With Us
Decorating for the holidays can be part of the fabric of some of our best memories, and by keeping safety central you can create a cozy atmosphere that won’t compromise the warmth the holidays brings. Your safety is our priority, and by working together we can help preserve the safety, warmth and comfort of your home, fireplace and wood stove.
Let’s get started. Call 636-225-3340 or book online with us now.