Holiday Fireplace Safety Tips


  • Keep all combustible items 3 feet or more from heat sources. This includes Christmas trees, decorations, presents, wrapping paper, furniture, etc. While we all adore the look of stockings hung along the mantel, they are often highly flammable. In addition to the fireplace, keep a close watch on candles, stoves and portable heaters.
  • For wood-burning fireplaces, use a screen to prevent embers from escaping. A properly fitted fireplace screen is also great for gas fireplaces as they provide extra protection from the hot glass. This is especially helpful in homes with small children or pets.
  • Choose fire-resistant or flame retardant decorations. While fire resistant decorations will not completely prevent a fire, it will significantly lower the risk and prevent a fire from burning as hot.
  • After the season is over (or if the tree becomes too dried out), dispose of it properly. Do not burn the tree in the fireplace. Burn only seasoned hardwoods that have been properly dried. Failure to use properly seasoned wood leads to excess creosote build up. This can cause chimney fires or other damage.
  • Do not burn wrapping paper in the fire. Wrapping paper is coated with ink pigments that may contain metals. Not only will it emit toxic chemicals and fumes when burned, it poses the potential of starting a serious chimney fire.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher nearby. While necessary to have an easily accessible extinguisher, make sure it is kept at a safe distance away from open flames.
  • Ensure there are smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors present and that they are working properly. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends testing smoke alarms once per month and replacing them every 5-10 years.
  • If you have a live Christmas tree in your home, make sure it is fresh and properly cared for. Be sure to check water levels daily for proper hydration. The needles should be hard to pull from the branches and not break between your fingers. Heated rooms will quickly dry out a fresh tree, so be diligent when caring for the tree.
  • Have the fireplace cleaned and serviced by a professional before every cold-weather season. This will ensure proper operation and cleanliness. This could potentially prevent any future damage from occurring.
  • Keep a close eye on any children, pets or guests that may be unfamiliar with fireplace safety precautions. During the holiday season, you will likely be entertaining more guests, some perhaps unfamiliar with appropriate fire precautions. Take the time to educate guests and keep a close eye on children.
  • Be sure to keep all exits and stairways free from decorations and additional clutter. In the event of a fire emergency, this will ensure a quick and safe exit route.
  • As always, never leave the fireplace unattended. Make sure it is properly extinguished before going to bed or leaving the house. This rule also applies to candles or any other holiday decorations such as Christmas tree lights.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Recommends
Testing Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms Monthly

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Recommends
Watering Live Trees Daily to Help Prevent Fires