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Holiday Fireplace Safety Tips

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Holiday Fireplace Safety - Ann Arbor MI - Clean Sweeps of MichiganNovember and December are a festive time of year when many families get together for holiday celebrations. Often, these festivities involve sitting together in front of a roaring fire, admiring a brightly decorated tree or a festively adorned mantle. However, there are special fireplace safety concerns that can arise during the holidays. Following these safety tips can ensure your family enjoys a safe and happy holiday season.

Cleaning and inspection 

The colder weather that accompanies the holiday season also coincides with the heaviest use periods for fireplace. For that reason, it is recommended that homeowners have their annual sweep and inspection before the holidays get under way. National Fire Protection Association  Standard 211 says, “Chimneys, fireplaces, and vents shall be inspected at least once a year for soundness, freedom from deposits, and correct clearances. Cleaning, maintenance, and repairs shall be done if necessary.”

A yearly chimney sweep and inspection can greatly reduce the risk of chimney fire by removing any harmful deposits of creosote, a highly flammable byproduct of wood burning fires, in the chimney. Likewise, inspections can spot any problems or damage with a fireplace or chimney system, helping to resolve them before they turn into major safety issues.

Holiday decor 

Trimming the tree and decorating the mantle are just a few of the things that make a house feel like a home during the holidays. However, there are several safety tips homeowners should follow to reduce the risk of accidental house fire.

Christmas trees: Christmas trees, whether real or artificial, should be placed at least three feet away from all fireplaces or heating appliances. Likewise, real trees should be taken down sooner rather than later; the longer a tree has been up, the drier it becomes and the greater risk it poses for accidentally catching on fire.

Mantle décor: The stockings can still be hung by the chimney with care, but they should be moved or taken down before the fireplace is used. Likewise, do not drape ribbon or greenery over the edge of the mantle, as any stray sparks can ignite these decorations.

Burning and recycling 

Holiday wrapping paper, packing materials, and boxes should never be burned in a fireplace. These highly combustible materials ignite quickly and can cause the flames to travel up the chimney or out into the room. The colored dye in wrapping paper may also cause toxic gasses to be released when burned.

Trees, wreaths, garlands, and other greenery made of real pine, spruce, or other firs should also never be burned. Because this wood has not been seasoned, it is not suitable for use as firewood. Likewise, many greenery products are treated with flame retardant chemicals that leave the wood unsuitable for burning.

Fire prevention 

There are a number of common sense steps that homeowners can take to greatly reduce their risk of accidental fires during the holiday season. First, keep a minimum three foot clearance around the fireplace, including trees, garlands, stocking, gifts, and other décor. If a real tree is being used instead of an artificial tree, make sure the tree remains well watered throughout the holiday season as dry trees ignite quickly. Smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors should also be checked to ensure they are working properly.

Having your chimney swept and inspected before the season begins is another way to ensure your family is safe throughout the holidays. Contact Clean Sweeps of Michigan with any questions you may have about fireplace safety or to schedule a chimney sweep and inspection.