The holiday season is officially in full swing! Whatever traditions enrich your family’s enjoyment of the holidays, you certainly want them all to play out safely. This is especially true if a crackling fire in the hearth is one of the season’s attractions. You may have planned for decorations, food, and activities, but be sure you’ve also planned for fire safety – including the decoration, preparation, and conscientious use of your fireplace and chimney.
Safety Decorating Your Fireplace
- Maintain Clearances: When decking out your home for the holidays, ensure that all combustible items are kept a safe distance from the fireplace. Furniture, rugs, curtains, garlands, and decorative items should be kept at least three feet away from the fireplace to prevent them from accidentally catching fire.
- Choose Decorations With Care: Opting for flame-resistant or flame-retardant decorations when possible adds another layer of safety to your home. This precaution reduces the risk of decorations igniting and helps slow or contain flames if an accident were to occur.
- Don’t Overload Outlets: Electrical fires caused by overloaded outlets are also a holiday hazard. To mitigate this risk, use extension cords sparingly and avoid overloading electrical outlets. Think quality and high safety standards over quantity to create a festive ambiance.
- Place Your Tree Thoughtfully: If you have a Christmas tree, place it well away from heat sources such as fireplaces or wood stoves. The clearance rule of maintaining a minimum of three feet of space comes into play when it comes to trees just as it does with other decorations. If you opt for a real tree, keep it well watered. Not only will this keep it a lovely, vibrant green and (hopefully) help it hold its needles, it will also reduce its flammability.
Preparing Your Fireplace for Use
Fireplace safety is a year-round concern. Establishing a rhythm of proper maintenance will help ensure the continued safe and efficient use of your fireplace and wood stove and make your holidays all the more worry-free. Another perk? Diligent maintenance protects the longevity of your system, protecting your investment in your home.
✓ Have Your Chimney Inspected Annually
A professional chimney inspection protects the integrity of your home, and having an experienced set of eyes on your chimney at least annually means that safety concerns and other issues are less likely to go unnoticed and cause deterioration or hazardous conditions.
At Top Cat Chimney, we’re certified, licensed, insured, and regulated by a high standard of professional ethics. You should settle for no less than this level of service from the company maintaining your chimney. If you live in the Pittsburgh area, you can trust us to keep your safety, preferences, and budget in mind as we attend to annual inspections and routine chimney sweeping.
✓ Have Your Chimney Swept
If your chimney hasn’t been swept recently, be sure to call our technicians to get an appointment on the books. Chimney sweeping isn’t about being clean and sparkly, though – it includes clearing out potential hazardous blockages and combustible creosote. This reduces the risk of chimney fires and promotes better ventilation of smoke and gases. In other words, it’s essential for your chimney to be able to do its job!
✓ Consider a Spark Arrestor
If you don’t have a functional spark arrestor or chimney cap in place, it would be worth having one installed at the top of your chimney. This mesh screen allows gases to escape, but prevents sparks from making a dangerous escape and meeting leaves or debris on your roof or in your yard. Unsure whether you have one? Ask at your next chimney inspection!
Additional Fire Safety Tips
Be sure that your home is equipped for fire safety and that family members are educated on how to practice fire safety and respond to emergencies. There are a number of things you can do to help keep your home safe.
- Use Proper Fuel: When using your fireplace or wood stove, burn only the proper fuel. If your appliance is wood-burning, use only well-seasoned firewood. Resist the temptation to burn any holiday paper or packaging, and use a fireplace screen to arrest sparks.
- Monitor Flames: Never leave candles or fireplaces unattended when in use. Be sure flames are extinguished before leaving the room, especially if you have pets or young children.
- Keep Fire Extinguishers Ready: Place extinguishers in key areas of your home, such as the kitchen and near the fireplace. Equip family members with knowledge of how to use them, and regularly check their expiration dates.
- Invest in Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors: Every home should be equipped with functional smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. Be sure they’re installed according to manufacturer recommendations. Regularly test these devices and replace batteries routinely.
- Establish an Evacuation Plan: No one likes to think about emergencies, but knowing how to respond can preserve health and life. Identify and communicate escape routes, designate a meeting point, and practice fire drills so moments aren’t wasted on indecision or uncertainty.
Trust Us for Your Chimney & Fireplace Repairs & Maintenance
Planning for fire safety when you prepare for the season is essential – especially if you have a fireplace. By adopting practices to safely maintain, decorate, and use your fireplace or stove chimney, you can enjoy the warmth of the season for all its worth without compromising safety. This will give you the freedom to create lasting memories with peace of mind!
Need chimney services? Schedule with us today!