Fireplace safety is an ever-present concern, and it is something that every family member should be aware of. During the holidays, however, there is one additional concern, setting up holiday decorations. You will have to take extra care to ensure that the fireplace is being used safely.

The Christmas Tree

Let’s start with one of the main reasons why house fires start during the holiday season. According to data from the National Fire Protection Association, roughly 210 such fires occurred between 2009 and 2013. As a first step to making the home safer, put in a fireplace spark arrestor, also called a spark guard. Make sure that it is the right size for your fireplace.

Even when you have taken steps to shield the tree from sparks, you should still think about placement. The recommended distance from the fireplace is three feet, and this applies to other heat sources as well. Wherever you put the tree, it should not block a doorway or exit. Buy a tree that is fresh and green, as this will be less likely to catch fire. It is a good idea to replace your tree every year, especially if the needles have turned brown and started to fall out. For an extra measure of protection, you can use a fire retardant spray on your tree.


It is easy to get carried away when hanging Christmas decorations. Make sure no electrical cords are running near the fireplace. Do not allow any decorations to hang in front of the fireplace, even with a spark guard installed. No potentially flammable material should be near a heat source. If you are leaving the room, put out the fire. No fire should be left unattended with decorations hanging. Hundreds of fires each year are attributed to Christmas decorations unrelated to Christmas trees. You can make your home festive and safe with non-flammable decorations.

Children will want to be involved in decorating the home for the Christmas holidays. Show them how to do this safely, and explain why they should keep these items away from the fireplace. Another cautionary measure is to prevent them from playing with their toys or running around too close to the fire. Fireplace safety is always important, but when you add more elements to the space, it requires more attention.

Give us a call here at Lou Curley’s Chimney Service at 610-626-2439 and we’ll schedule an appointment with one of our CSIA Certified chimney sweeps to ensure that your chimney is clean and in proper working order before the holiday season hits.