There are few things that get us in the festive spirit as much as sitting peacefully in front of a fire with a nice mug of hot chocolate in hand. But, as cosy and relaxed as they make us feel, fireplaces can also be dangerous if not used with caution.
Follow our top tips on how to safely enjoy your fireplace so that you can unwind in peace this holiday season.
Use safe materials
It’s important to use the right type of wood when using your fireplace so as to prevent accidents from occurring. Flammable liquids are a no-go. Instead, choose dry, well-seasoned woods and newspaper. Avoid using wet woods (e.g. pine) or green woods, since they typically produce more creosote which creates smoke that can cause soot to build up within your chimney. Moreover, you should ensure you have a secure fireplace grate to place your materials.
Keep your fire small
It might be tempting to create a big, roaring fire to keep yourself snug in the cold winter months, but it’s wise to keep your fire fairly compact since smaller fires generally produce less smoke and therefore less creosote is able to build up. Moreover, if your fire grows too large or gets too warm it can actually crack your chimney – and let’s face it, nobody wants to have to fork out to repair one of those during the Christmas period.
Invest in a spark guard
A fire guard is essential for safely operating a fire within your home. A secure screen or shutting fireplace doors will help prevent embers from flying out and causing an accident. This is particularly beneficial for when a fireplace is left active in a room which is occasionally left unattended.
Undergo routine maintenance
Dirty chimneys can cause chimney fires which can be highly dangerous. As such, you should ideally have your fireplace and chimney inspected and cleaned every two years to ensure that it is in good working condition and free from soot, debris, or other unwanted objects. It is a good idea to hire a professional for this sort of job, as these people are well-versed in spotting things that unqualified folks might otherwise miss, such as birds’ nests which can block smoke from escaping. The professional will also know how to thoroughly clean the fireplace and have the necessary tools to do so.
Clear the clutter
It might sound like common sense to many, but it is worth noting that the area surrounding your fireplace should be kept clear whenever the fire is burning. This is important because if embers were to fly out, there should be nothing in the vicinity which may catch ablaze. Likewise, the mantelpiece should also be kept clutter-free. As such, avoid hanging your stockings or tinsel from the mantel place this Christmas!