No other sight heralds the arrival of the winter holiday season quite like a cozy, cracking fire lighting up your living room. Although the soft glow of a fireplace brings peace and joy to your home, it also represents an underlying safety hazard that must be addressed. Each fall and winter, as temperatures begin to dip, news headlines swell with stories of families who lose everything to a fire that, quite often, could have been prevented.

These tragedies are often due to issues such as burning fires in a clogged chimney, placing combustible material too close to a fireplace, and not possessing well-maintained basic fire safety equipment in the home. In order to ensure your family can enjoy the comfort of a warm fire safely this fall and winter, get your chimney and fireplace inspected and utilize the following general fire safety principles prior to building your family’s first fire of the season.

With a Chimney Sweep, You’re in Good Company

To kick the cold weather season off right, enlist the professional services of a certified chimney sweep to conduct a thorough inspection of your chimney and fireplace. A chimney sweep can quickly determine if any buildup of foreign material, cracks, or structural deficiencies are present in your fireplace and chimney that could spell disaster for you and your home.

You don’t need to worry about dust and debris from the chimney entering your home. Modern-era chimney sweeps utilize sophisticated equipment to efficiently clean and detect potential problems in your chimney. In fact, a chimney sweep has the ability to detect early stages of potential issues and address them before they lead to high-dollar repairs. Once your chimney has been thoroughly inspected by a licensed chimney sweep, you will have peace of mind knowing that you and your loved ones are ready to safely enjoy the glow of a warm fire in your home.

Fireplace Safety Tips

Although the first and most important step in chimney safety is to enlist the services of a professional chimney sweep, protecting your family from fire hazards does not stop there. The fireplace itself is an area of concern that must be taken into account when planning the placement of key holiday-related items. Using smart, strategic planning in the placement of items such as Christmas trees, holiday decorations, wrapped gifts, and fireplace tools will go a long way toward keeping your fire where it belongs.

Equally important, especially for those of us with small children, is to place a wire mesh divider around the fireplace to keep curious little hands out of harm’s reach. Although a large, roaring fire is a lovely sight to behold, a smaller fire placed toward the back of your fireplace space will keep the heat source as far away as possible from flammable material.

Fire Safety Equipment for the Home

Last, but certainly not least, once your chimney has been inspected and you have taken the necessary safety precautions outlined above, you must also ensure that your home is well equipped with basic fire safety equipment. Items such as smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and fire extinguishers are often far from our minds as we plan the festivities of the holiday season, but they are vitally important to ensuring the safety of our homes and our loved ones.

Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors must not only be strategically placed around your home, but also require periodic checks to ensure they are in good working order and contain functioning batteries. Do yourself a favor and call a chimney sweep, keep flammable material away from your fireplace, and check your smoke detectors! Then you can enjoy that long winter’s nap with peace of mind.

Chimney Repair: The Definitive Guide to Chimney Inspection, Chimney Sweeps, and Repairs