The fireplace is a traditional, almost magical place during the holidays. Halloween decorations look great around a spooky-looking empty fireplace. You can even decorate the firebox to look as if it contains skeletons or other creepy crawly creatures. Thanksgiving decorations look beautiful with the fireplace because that is the time for lovely, rich colors and hot cocoa with loved ones. And then of course there are Christmas decorations because everyone knows that Santa magically comes down the chimney to deliver gifts. With several big holidays coming up within the next few months, we wanted to share some safety tips with you to help ensure fireplace safety for your children, pets, and your decorations.
Decorating the Mantle
The mantle should sit at least one foot from the top of the firebox. Everyone loves to decorate the mantle for the holidays. Make sure that none of your lovely decorations hang down from the mantle if you plan to use the fireplace while the decorations are up. Remove any low-hanging decorations before lighting the fireplace.
Decorating the Overmantle
The overmantle is the area above the mantle. This area often gets hot because it’s very near the chimney. Radiant heat can be very damaging to televisions or other electronics, but this is a good spot for most types of artwork or shelving.
Decorating the Hearth
The hearth is the part that extends from below the firebox. This is where most people store their fireplace tools and add a few noncombustible decorations. You can decorate a cold fireplace any way you like, but don’t decorate with anything that can catch fire if you plan to use the fireplace.
Rules of Thumb
Don’t leave combustible decorations within three feet of the firebox if it is in use. Always remove all decorations before lighting a fire to prevent the risk of accidental fire. Use a fire screen to prevent embers from jumping from the fireplace while it is in use.
Explain to children that decorations and other things that burn can’t be near the fireplace opening because it gets very hot. The perfect way to eliminate fireplace injury to children is to teach them respect for it at a very young age. It’s never too early to start teaching your toddler fireplace safety.
Pets such as dogs and reptiles aren’t usually in danger of knocking things off of the mantle because it is above the firebox. Cats, birds, sugar gliders, and other pets that like high spaces should be watched very carefully at all times around the fireplace. Place a screen or other barrier around the firebox to keep dogs and curious animals at a safe distance.