Much of the country has already seen its first snow of the season, which only means that winter is right around the corner. Along with winter comes preparation for the parade of holidays at the end of the year. The Christmas tree goes up with all the glittering ornaments, the front yard glows with red and green lights placed with care, and the children go to bed dreaming of Santa and reindeer. However, the holiday season comes with its own set of serious responsibilities, especially if they are being celebrated with a fireplace in the house as well.
Basic fireplace and fire safety still goes, even around the holidays. Yet, with all the hustle and bustle, the children running about, and the champagne flowing, mistakes can happen. For that reason, it pays to take a little extra care to ensure the season does not end tragically.
Be sure to keep the Christmas tree, whether it is a true pine or a trusty artificial, far away from any stove or fireplace. The artificial needles and even pine needles on a live tree that has sat drying for too many days can catch fire quickly, so do not even make it an option. The same goes for decorations around a fireplace you intend to use. Stocking look festive, but do not let them hang low or close to the firebox. Secure any decorations on the mantle or hearth to ensure they do not end up near or in the fire.
Once the holidays are over, some people like to burn their live trees, wreaths, and even crumpled wrapping paper. Margate Firefight Chris Baumgartel explains that this is a bad idea because “pine burns very hot and very fast.” The high temperatures can ignite the creosote built up in the fireplace and chimney, resulting in an unintended chimney or house fire. Creosote results from incompletely burnt wood, and it is highly flammable. Therefore, the fast burst of hot fire that occurs when burning a dried out pine tree is the perfect recipe for starting a creosote fire.
For further safety that extends beyond the realm of the holidays, experts recommend only burning wood that has seasoned for 12 to 18 months. Burning this dried out wood reduces the amount of creosote and other toxins given off by the fire.
With over 17,000 holiday fires reported across the nation in 2013, you can never be too careful. Use common sense, and keep an eye on children near the fireplace. For added security, update batteries in the home’s smoke detectors. For more information on fireplace safety or to have your fireplace and chimney swept and inspected before the holidays, contact Total Chimney Care out of New Haven and Fairfield, Connecticut.