If you’re like many Americans, your holiday decorations are well underway. If you have a fireplace, the mantel may be the focal point of your entire holiday decor, and it may be the most dangerous. Before you light up the fire, make sure your decorations are not a fire hazard.

Check Tags on Decorations

Check labels on your store-bought decorations for warnings against placing near flames. Some items such as Garland, stockings, pine cones, and branches will burn. Keep these items safely away from the fire.

The Top of the Mantel

If the mantel is constructed correctly, it is a safe distance from the heat of the fire and it should be safe to decorate the top without fear. Since the mantel is already higher than the fireplace, it isn’t a good idea to place tall decorations that may tip over, fall off, and land near the fireplace opening. If you decorate with loose items that can roll, like pine cones or nuts, make sure these items are in a dish of some kind. If using branches or flowers, make sure they are in an appropriately-sized vase that holds them securely and will not tip.

The Chimney

Hanging decorations on the chimney is a popular idea, and one that’s been around for many years. Homeowners like to hang family portraits or art on the chimney, and around Christmastime, wreaths are a common replacement. Before hanging anything onto your chimney face, you should be sure it’s safe. If your chimney gets hot to the touch while a fire is burning, it is not safe to hang any decorations. Also, this indicates a possible problem with the lining system designed to contain the heat. You should not use glue hooks to hang decorations onto masonry because these come off easily, causing your decoration to fall—possibly into or near your fire. If you’re unsure what type of fastener to use to hang your decorations, consult your trusted chimney professionals. Pristine Sweeps offers advice and services, and a chimney expert is only a phone call away.

Hanging Decorations

The traditional use of stockings is to hang them from the mantel. This is the original idea behind the stocking, since hanging by the fire was the easiest way to dry and warm wet socks. This is because the heat from the fire reaches them there! This is no place to hang your holiday stockings while a fire is burning. If a fireplace will dry a wet sock, imagine what it can do to a dry one made of a flammable material like those commonly sold in US stores. Whatever you use to fasten your stockings, make sure that they are easily removed so that they are safely out of the way when you light your fire. When you remove your stockings, make sure they are not placed near candles, scented wax heaters, or anywhere they may fall into the fire.

Before you decorate, it’s a good idea to make a plan so that a poor decision isn’t made in haste. Oversee children as they decorate and talk to them about fire safety. Place your tree away from the fireplace, keep it watered, and plan a fire escape with your family.

Pristine Sweeps wishes you a happy and safe holiday season! Call 206-574-8414 for questions or concerns about your fireplace and mantel.