When it’s time to crank up the fireplace for the season, it’s magic in itself. Fire season brings another magical season, however—Christmas. The fireplace plays an important role in family gatherings and festivities during the holiday season, and it’s important to make the most out of it while also maintaining safety. Your chimney and fireplace safety is paramount during the hustle and bustle of a busy season, but especially while guests are in the home who may not understand the rules or science of the fireplace. Add decorations to the mix and your holidays may end up disastrous!
It’s our goal at The Mad Hatter that all of our customers, friends, and neighbors have a safe and warm fireplace this holiday season. We know from experience both professional and personal that the fireplace brings the holiday home to life. In order to keep the fire in its place and to protect your family, guests, and home from danger this winter, we have a few important tips.
When it comes to seasonal and holiday decorations, every homemaker has a unique taste. Since the mantel is one of our favorite things to decorate, we know our customers also enjoy the act of decorating it as well. Once it’s beautifully decorated according to our own personality and style, it becomes a backdrop for all of our gatherings all winter long.
Natural Décor – As the trends move toward a more natural look, make sure you are using artificially-made products that have the look you’re going for but are less flammable than organic materials. For instance, instead of a pine cone from the neighborhood park, purchase one that is artificial, or cover the real pine cone in Mod Podge or school glue to make it less flammable. You can even decorate the pine cone with glitter or other additions when you are using this method. Using completely organic materials is just fine, even dried flowers and leaves. Just make sure these things are contained in vases, baskets, or low bowls. The containers will add depth, color, and safety to your display.
Freestanding Décor – When you decorate your hearth opening with freestanding decorations such as trees or nativities, it’s important to place these items far enough away so that they will not reach the fire if they fall. When decorating in the space where you also have a fireplace, it’s important to plan for the worst. If your cute wooden turkey has a sturdy wooden stand, imagine it breaks and the feathered tail lands just inches from the fire. Imagine dried pine, or even fake Christmas trees covered in tinsel, falling into or near the fire! Disaster.
Fasten and Fix Décor – No matter what you’re decorating your mantel with, never drape items, assuming they’ll stay put. All lights, garland, stockings, and anything else that hands over the side or front of the mantel should be properly fastened or fixed to the mantel. Do not trust tape and glue products to hold decorations onto your fireplace. Tapes and glue can become unfastened when exposed to high temperatures (like that near a fireplace). Fasten and fix your decorations to your mantel using hooks, staples, and screws. If you would like to install hooks onto the mantel but it is fashioned of stone, a chimney professional can help with that. Many homeowners leave hooks year-round on the mantel and above the mantel on the chimney itself, simply changing the décor periodically.
Fire Safety Tips
When it comes to fireplace safety, make sure everyone in your home is on the same page. If you are unable to inform your holiday guests of the rules or you’re afraid they will not abide by them, make a rule that only those with expressed permission can supervise or go near the fire. Children should never tend to a fire or be left unattended with one even if it has a screen or doors. Fireplace burns can be serious but can be prevented with the proper use and supervision of the fireplace.
Here are the best general tips for fireplace use and safety from the American Academy of Pediatrics:
- Crack a window while fire is burning (this helps the draft especially in modern homes that are made tightly).
- Ensure the damper is open (if the fireplace is smoky and the damper is open, there is a problem).
- Use only proper-seasoned firewood (green-wood burns incompletely, it burns slower, and produces less heat).
- Use smaller pieces of wood for best, fast-burning fires.
- Check for obstructions even between professional chimney cleanings.
- Remove flammable items from fireplace entrance (i.e., Christmas stockings).
- Cover switches that ignite your gas fires and keep remotes out of the reach of children.
- Never leave a fireplace unattended while lit.
- Install fireplace screens to prevent accidental burns when there are children in the home.
- Keep fireplace tools out of the reach of children.
- Install smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors (one on each floor of the home), checking them monthly, and replacing batteries annually.
- Keep a fire extinguisher in your home.
- Explain fire safety to your children at a young age.
We also encourage homeowners to make a fire escape plan and practice it with your family as often as you check your smoke alarms (monthly). There are great resources here.
Finally, we help homeowners have the safest and most efficient fireplace possible by providing important services. The most safe and efficiently fires are those that are cleaned regularly and inspected annually. If you haven’t had your fireplace inspected in the last year, schedule a sweep with The Mad Hatter and the inspection is included!
Call us at 317-596-0200 to schedule your service today.