How You Can Effortlessly Keep Your Fireplace Safe

Getting cozy in front of a roaring fire in your fireplace can be one of the most rewarding parts of winter. It’s a chance to relax, enjoy the season, and escape from the winter chill. The warm glow makes it easy to forget that despite all of its benefits, a fireplace can be an extremely dangerous part of your home.

A fireplace can be an easy way to heat your home, roast some mallows, or even just add a little more holiday spirit to your evening. It is also easy to keep it well-maintained and safe so you can relax and warm up without worry.

Keep Combustible Materials Far Away
Make sure your hearth is clear of all items except for fireplace tools. Lighting the fireplace is inviting a large open flame into your home. The less items you have near it that can ignite, the safer you, your home and your family will be.

Keep it Covered
To help have a little control over how much the fire can spread, make sure you have a screen in front of your fireplace. Most come with a metal screen you can pull to cover the flames, which should be kept close if a fire is lit. If you do not have a metal screen, you can purchase one to keep in front of the flames. If you have glass doors in front of your fireplace, make sure they are open when the fireplace is in use.

Use The Right Tools
Never reach into a fire with your bare hands, no matter how tough you think you are. Tools such as pokers and grabbers are a simple way to keep a fire burning bright without putting your hands in danger.

Keep it Clean
Clean ash out of your fireplace once it reaches the bottom of the grate to avoid danger. If you have recently had a fire, do not use a vacuum, as some coals can remain hot for up to three days. Always use a dust mask and gloves to clean out your fireplace.

Clear the Flue
Before lighting a fire, check your chimney flue for any debris. Hire a professional chimney sweep to come and inspect it and make sure everything is cleaned out. Check to make sure your damper is open before lighting a fire, and make sure to close it once the fire is completely extinguished. To keep debris out of your fireplace, consider installing a chimney cap.

Use the Right Wood
Burn only firewood in a wood-burning fireplace. When selecting wood, look for seasoned wood that has been cut and dried for at least six months. Dry wood burns more thoroughly, while wet wood can cause a lot of soot. To check, knock two pieces together; if they make a sharp sound, they are dry. Always use hardwoods such as oak, ash and maple for a better fire.

Have it Inspected
Twice a year have a certified chimney sweep come and inspect your chimney. Have them look for any cracks, obstructions or other damage that can be dangerous. Once they have cleaned your flue from any soot or debris, ask them what you can do to check your chimney yourself to keep it safer year-round.

Detectors
Before lighting a fire, make sure you have properly working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors installed in the room where the fireplace is located. Detectors, like the interconnected system made by Crossfire Alarms, can inform you in time of a potential threat in your home caused by the fireplace. If your current detectors do not work properly, consider upgrading to a more advanced and accurate system like Crossfire that is proven to alert you sooner and keep you safer.

8 Ways to Keep Your Christmas Tree From Catching on Fire

The stockings are hung, the decorations are up and the lights are on. The Christmas season is here and ready to fill our homes with family, food and cheer. Each holiday season, we decorate our homes for Christmas all focused on the holiday centerpiece, the tree. According to the National Christmas Tree Association, approximately 25-30 million real trees sold in the United States every year.

Christmas trees have become a holiday staple. Even if you aren’t willing to go through the hassle of a real tree, it’s almost impossible to go into a home, office or any building during December without seeing a decorated tree. With so many trees, it’s important to remember the risks associated with this holiday icon. According to a report by the NFPA, approximately 210 Christmas trees ignite each year. Of these fires, 1 out of every 40 result in a fatality, compared to an average 1 in 144 total reported home fires. But don’t let statistics ruin your holiday season. Follow these simple tips to keep your tree and your Christmas safe.

1. Go for green!
When picking out your tree, look for one with lush, green branches. Avoid trees that are dry and brown. A good way to test is grab about eight inches into a branch and pull your hand out towards you. If a lot of needles fall off, it is a dry tree.

2. Find the right spot!
Before placing your tree, cut off about two inches from the bottom of the trunk and trim any drooping branches. Find a place for your tree that is at least 3 feet away from any heat source including fireplaces, candles or radiators. And make sure your tree isn’t blocking any exits.

3. Give it a drink!
Like all plants, your tree needs water. To keep it alive longer and avoid it drying out, make sure put water in the tree stand each day. IF your tree does become dry, turn off the lights on it immediately and discard it.

4. Light it right!
When buying lights to put on your tree, only select lights that have a label from a recognized safety testing laboratory. Check the usage instructions to ensure your only use lights intended for indoors on your tree. Never use lit candles to light your tree. Always turn off the lights before leaving the home or going to bed.

5. Add the ornaments!
If you are buying ornaments, look for ones that are flame-retardant. Look through your old ornaments to see if there are any made of paper or other flammable materials. Instead of put these on the tree where they could become a hazard, try putting them into a frame or scrapbook so you can keep the memory without the risk.

6. Check your wiring!
One of every three Christmas tree fires are caused by an electrical problem. To ensure that isn’t you, check all wires for frays or overuse. Never use damaged lights or wires. Connect no more than three strands of mini light sets together, and no more than 50 bulbs for screw in light sets.

7. Wrap presents wisely!
A Christmas tree isn’t complete without gifts neatly wrapped and placed beneath it. Since presents are usually wrapped in paper products, it poses a potential threat. Make sure no presents are placed too close to lights and keep any bows and ribbons far from open flames.

8. Make your holidays safe!
It only takes a few precautions to keep your holiday season bright and fire-free. Make sure to check your smoke alarms before the holiday season so they can warn you in time of any potential fire danger in your home.