Warmth, joy, and celebration. These are the words we want to come to mind when we think of the holiday season. But to keep the festivity going and create memories to cherish, it’s important that safety takes a prominent spot among the holiday preparations. You may be thinking, “Wait a minute! Are we assigning you another holiday task?”
If it feels like the details of the season are already overwhelming enough, never fear! Taking a few small, intentional actions will minimize hazards and provide you with a higher degree of safety and peace of mind. And that should make the season all the cheerier!
Questions for our team? We’re always ready and willing to help out our customers throughout Indianapolis and its surrounding areas. Call or book online with us today.
First Things First: Book Your Chimney Inspection
First things first – to establish a baseline of good fireplace safety, be diligent about inspections, maintenance, and sweeping services. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends having your chimney inspected by a certified professional annually.
Why is this critical? Using specialized tools, a professional will examine your system from top to bottom. Noticing any concerns while they’re still small will allow you to address them before they’re amplified, keeping your wood stove or fireplace system more functional, efficient, and (of course) safe!
And then there’s sweepings, which we’ll do with every inspection. Having your chimney swept clears out blockages, such as leaves, nesting materials, and other debris, that may have accumulated since the last sweeping. Not only can blockages create fire hazards, they also inhibit proper ventilation, which is a significant safety concern. Another substance that will be attended to is creosote, which is a dark, tarry by-product of combustion that can accumulate on the walls of your chimney flue. It’s highly combustible, so it’s definitely not welcome in your home for the holidays!
Fireplace Decor Safety Tips
When your fireplace or wood stove has the green light for safe use, you can consider how to enhance its aesthetic with decorative touches. While this is a year-round consideration, the holidays offer lots of opportunities to up the festive glitz and glamor or rustic cozy cheer. With the increase of opportunity, though, be extra mindful of how decorative items can detract from home safety.
How far should I keep my Christmas tree (and other decor) from my fireplace?
Our advice? Keep all decorations and furniture – but especially flammable decor such as that made of paper, wood, or fabric – at a safe distance from the heat and flames. It’s recommended that these items stay at least 36 inches (or 3 feet) from the fireplace. Closer placement increases the risk of uncontained fire. Decor that drapes from the fireplace is both too close to the flame and more likely to slip closer yet.
How else can you up the safety factor?
- Look for decorative items that are labeled flame-resistant or are non-combustible when possible.
- Secure decor carefully, especially if it’s top heavy, to avoid tipping or falling.
- If decorations may be enticing to pets or children, it may be wise to keep them even further from the fire than three feet.
- If you have a real tree, don’t let it get thirsty! A dry tree will burn more quickly in the event that an accident occurs than one that’s well hydrated.
- Be sure your outlets nearby aren’t overloaded. Everyone loves twinkling lights, but they aren’t worth the risk of an electrical fire.
Other Fireplace Safety Tips
So, your decor is up, your fireplace has been deemed safe for use, and you’re ready to get those fires going… Anything else to note? Absolutely. Keep the following in mind as you light things up:
- When it’s time to get the fire going, ensure that your fireplace screen or door is in good condition and used properly to prevent embers from making a getaway.
- Using a fire-resistant rug or mat in front of the fireplace is a great move to protect flooring and reduce the risk of damage from sparks.
- Be present and attentive any time a fire is lit. Ready to go out or turn in for the night? Extinguish the fire.
- Having a small layer of ash in a wood-burning fireplace during the active season is generally acceptable and even beneficial. A thin layer of ash can provide insulation and help maintain a consistent temperature in the firebox. It can also make it easier to start and maintain a fire.
- When the ash has built up too much and it’s time to clear it out, though, allow everything to cool completely before disposing of ash and embers in a metal container with a snugly-fitting lid. Then, remove the container outside, placing it at least 10 feet away from your home.
- Install a sufficient number of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors for your home’s size and layout. Test these devices regularly, and replace the batteries as recommended by the manufacturer, so they’ll be ready if you ever need them.
- Having strategically placed fire extinguishers in the proximity of fireplaces and the kitchen is also a good practice – but be sure your family knows how to use them.
Fireplace and wood stove safety doesn’t have to be fear-inducing or all-consuming… but a little wisdom and proactive planning goes a long way towards protecting your home, health, and safety. Be sure to take the right steps – keeping your fireplace or wood stove maintained and swept, decorating safely, and taking appropriate fire safety precautions while using your hearth appliance – so that you can avoid potential hazards and turn your attention to making the season cheery and bright.
Ready to Book Your Next Repair or Sweep?
If you’re needing to get your chimney or fireplace services on the books, don’t wait to reach out. Dial our number at 317-903-8121 or schedule online now to get started. We’d love to hear from you soon.