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In many homes around the world, the fireplace is a central and traditional focus as a place to gather, as a part of seasonal decor, and as Santa Claus’ entry point. However, holiday decorations, including your Christmas tree, can easily become fire hazards if certain fireplace safety tips are not followed. Part of our duties as Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA)-certified chimney sweeps at Mr. Smokestack is to educate our customers on fire safety practices and procedures. The last thing we want to happen during the holidays is a residential fire that could have been easily prevented. To inform you, we would like to share some holiday fireplace safety tips from the Upper Merion Township, PA Fire and Rescue Services to keep your holiday season safe from a house fire.

Never Hang Christmas Stockings in Front of a Burning Fire.

Mr. Smokestack knows how traditional it is to hang stockings from your fireplace mantel, but you should always move your stockings when a fire is burning in your fireplace. Plan a safe place to hang the stockings while you enjoy a blazing flame. We suggest small hooks on your staircase railing, on a bookcase, on the molding of an archway separating two rooms, or from your entertainment center.

Keep Your Mantle Free from Flammable Objects.

Of course, you can decorate your fireplace mantel during the holidays, but be sure to keep it clear of flammable decorations like greenery, ribbons, and paper. Sparks and hot embers can easily jump out of a fireplace and land on something nearby and ignite a fire. Placing glass fireplace doors or a metal screen in front of your fireplace also helps prevent this type of fire, and this can also protect small children and pets from coming too close to the fire and getting burned.

Remember the Three Feet Clearance Rule.

You should always keep anything flammable three feet away from your fireplace, and this includes your Christmas tree, presents, and other holiday decorations. Many people like to place baskets of pine cones and greenery around the hearth as they do add a nice decorative touch. However, pine cones are used as fire starters and should never be close to a burning flame as an accidental fire involving a basket full of pine cones can quickly become out of control. Since Christmas trees can still be fire hazards due to faulty electric lights, you can use the fertilizer ammonium sulfate to make the tree fire retardant (but NOT fire proof). You just mix nine pounds of ammonium sulfate with two gallons of water in a bucket and simply place your tree inside the bucket for 48 hours in a dark, cool place.

Never Burn Wrapping Paper in Your Fireplace.

Not only can burning discarded wrapping paper cause flash fires, it can also create toxic and hazardous fumes, including carbon monoxide, because of the dyes, inks, and coatings used in many kinds of gift wrapping paper. You should also refrain from burning your Christmas tree in your fireplace after the holidays as unseasoned pine can easily ignite a chimney fire.

You should also be sure your chimney has been swept to clean out combustible creosote deposits and to be ready for Santa’s visit. Contact Mr. Smokestack as soon as possible if you have not had your annual chimney sweeping and inspection yet.