Decorating your fireplace for the fall and winter holidays can add warmth and charm to your home. Many people cherish the opportunity to create a cozy backdrop to the season. From spiderwebs to turkeys, greenery to stockings, each element has a traditional background and can up the cheer and festivity factor.

…but is it safe? There’s no reason not to deck the halls – as long as you prioritize safety to help keep your celebrations joyful and accident-free.

Safety doesn’t have to be a mystery. Keeping a few tips in mind will help keep the fire season safer. While this list isn’t exhaustive, observing it will take you far in your journey toward the perfect unity of festivity and home safety. Questions? Give us a call or reach out online. We’re here to help.

🔥 Maintain Adequate Clearances

One of the first safety considerations to keep in mind while decorating a fireplace is keeping proper clearances. In other words, you need enough space between your fireplace and any combustible materials, such as decorations made from fabric or paper.

Leaving a minimum of three feet of clearance around your fireplace, as recommended by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), is a precaution against accidental ignition of combustible materials. Thirty-six inches may not seem like much, but it goes a long way in minimizing the risk of a fire spreading beyond the fireplace.

🔥 Use Flameless Candles

Your fireplace may not house the only open flame in your home. Candles are popular in fall and winter because they bring light to long evenings and a glow for the holidays. But they should be used with caution.

Use candle holders that are sturdy and won’t tip over easily on uncluttered surfaces. In addition, opting for battery operated, flameless candles can bring a similar ambient flicker – or real candles may be used with proper clearance from the fireplace and careful supervision.

🔥 Secure Decorations

Mantel displays, wreaths, and garlands are common decor. When installing these items, make sure they’re located safely and securely fastened. No decorations should drape or dangle below the mantel, and you should avoid using nails or sharp objects that can damage the fireplace. Decorations that aren’t firmly attached may be at risk of falling near or into the fireplace or cause a tripping hazard. Similarly, make sure your decorations aren’t unstable or top heavy.

🔥 Invest in Non-Flammable Decor

Some decorative items are treated with flame-resistant chemicals in order to reduce risk of a fire spreading if the decorations should inadvertently come in contact with an open flame.

That said, fire retardant foliage, fabric, and other decor should still be kept properly clear of the fireplace. Other items are made of materials that are not combustible such as stone or metal. Keep in mind, however, that while these items may not burn, they can still become very hot when near a fire.

🔥 Have Your Fireplace & Chimney Inspected

Having your chimney inspected annually is an essential safety practice, and so are frequent cleanings. This isn’t just about having a clean, blank slate to decorate. Creosote buildup and obstructions in your chimney flue can increase the risk of a dangerous chimney fire. A well-maintained fireplace and chimney system will serve you more efficiently and safely.

🔥 Keep an Eye on Pets & Children

Pets and children tend to be naturally curious, and holiday decorations can be alluring. Be attentive to them to ensure decorations aren’t damaged, moved, or tampered with and that children and pets don’t come too close to the fireplace. Consider using safety gates or barriers to limit access to the fireplace area – and never leave open flames unattended.

🔥 Invest In Safety Measures

Your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors should be frequently tested and equipped with fresh batteries. Know your emergency plans, and be sure you know how to use the safety features and equipment you have in your home.

How Far Should a Christmas Tree Be From the Fireplace?

infographic on how far christmas tree should be from fireplace (3 feet)

A Christmas tree is a well-loved holiday decoration in many homes, and it can look magical when lit up and bathed in the glow of a fireplace. Positioning the tree at least three feet from the fireplace will allow for proper ventilation and reduce the risk of accidental ignition. If you prefer artificial trees, look for one that’s flame-retardant, and if you opt for live ones be sure to keep your tree well watered. Either way, be sure that your tree isn’t obstructing any exits.

Count On Our Certified Sweeps

Fire safety is a top priority in our book, which is why we maintain a rigorous certification by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) and dedicate ourselves to professional, expert service. If you have questions about the safe, efficient, and optimal functioning of your fireplace system, don’t hesitate to reach out. We want you to enjoy your fireplace for all it’s worth!

Northeastern Masonry & Chimney
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