Fireplace preparation 101

By Callie Leahy

Whether it’s a smoldering fire to tell ghost stories around or a glowing backdrop for your favorite stockings, fireplaces are a staple in holiday celebrations.

Hearth, Patio and Barbeque Association (HPBA) communications director Leslie Wheeler says it is especially important to keep the safety of pets, children, and the elderly in mind while decorating your home for the holidays.

“Whether it’s ribbon hanging from a wreath or garlands hanging off the mantle, you just have to make sure that any combustible material is a good distance from the hearth of the fireplace or it can start a fire,” Wheeler says.

Kick off your holiday season this year by keeping these simple safety tips in mind.

Keep your fireplace in good health.

  • Have your fireplace inspected and cleaned annually. This is also a good time to check your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors for malfunctions and dead batteries.
  • Look for creosote and soot buildup in the chimney, cracks in the structure, and damaged or blocked flues.
  • Use your owner’s manual to make sure you are using your fireplace correctly. If you don’t have a manual, visit the HPBA fireplace and hearth page for more information.

Purchase a safety screen.

  • Screens can protect your family from sparks flying out of wood-burning fireplaces and from contact with hot glass in front of gas fireplaces.

Wheeler says there are many options when it comes to selecting a safety screen. Choose from attachable clip-on styles or free-standing screens, which can be placed in front of or inside the opening of the fireplace. Just measure the fireplace opening, and bring the measurements into a local fireplace or hardware store to buy a well-fitting screen.

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