For some of us, we are lucky to be with friends and family during the holiday season. Part of this time of year includes allure in a destination city that is hard to resist while craving the tradition and deep-rooted sense of home. 

Since we are in the fireplace and home decor business, we asked some of our trusted friends around the world about their favorite winter traditions in their home cities, and it put us in a wonderful, festive, globally-inspired mood. 

In this post, you will learn:

  • Why you should be careful with your Christmas tree near your fireplace
  • How to keep your home safe when you use your fireplace during Christmas
  • Are electric fireplaces safer than traditional fireplaces during the holidays?

As we prepare for the holiday season, there are plenty of reasons why we should be careful with a Christmas tree and holiday fireplace to avoid a fire hazard or flammable incident. 

Why you should be careful with your Christmas tree near your fireplace

According to FEMA and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA):

  • More than half of the home decoration fires in December are started by candles
  • The top three days for home candle fires are Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, New Year’s Eve
  • Although Christmas Tree fires are not common, when to do occur, they are dangerous
    • On average, 1 of every 52 reported home Christmas tree fires resulted in death
  • A heat source too close to the Christmas tree causes 1 in every 4 winter fires

How to keep your home safe when you use your fireplace during Christmas

We realize the most joyous time of the year includes many festive, holiday decorations — especially on the fireplace mantel and around the Christmas tree. The beauty of these two focal points have a low probability of igniting a fire. 

We know the ultimate focal point during the holidays is the fireplace and Christmas tree. Remember the saying, “Don’t play with fire”? It’s actually good advice when decorating around a fireplace.

There are several fireplace safety tips for homes with a traditional fireplace, combustible, wood fireplace, wood stove, gas fireplace, or electric fireplace that prove to be useful while keeping friends and family safe during the winter holidays.

Here is our top list for Christmas fireplace safety:

  1. Read manufacturer’s instructions for the number of light strands to connect
  2. Electric fireplaces have limited concern for safety outside of power outlets and cords 
  3. Make sure your tree is at least 3 feet away from heat sources like fireplaces, radiators, space heaters, candles, or heat vents. Also, make sure your tree does not block exits.
    • Fireplaces and Christmas trees belong together – but not too close. When choosing a spot for your tree, keep it a safe distance from your fireplace.
  4. If you buy an artificial tree, make sure it has a “Fire Resistant” label. All trees will burn if exposed to flames, but trees manufactured in this manner will resist fire and extinguish 
  5. faster.
  6. Home heat makes live Christmas trees dry out fast and can turn them into fire hazards. Keep the water reservoir full so your tree remains as hydrated as possible.
  7. Ensure Christmas stockings, gift wrapping paper, and flammable materials are grouped together near-live trees and close to smoke alarms. Avoid gifts in front of the fireplace or firebox and consider placing inside short stockings or under the tree away from greenery.
  8. Get rid of your tree after the holiday or when it is dry
  9. Keep a small fire extinguisher in a known, convenient place in case of electrical fire with lights or burning embers from the buildup of combustible materials.
    • Read the fire extinguisher instructions and test in a safe environment with young children in case of an actual emergency.
  10. For traditional fireplaces, consider a chimney sweep prior to the season to reduce the likelihood of chimney fire, reducing carbon monoxide emission, additional chimney repairs with an easy chimney inspection, chimney cleaning, and/or chimney maintenance.

Are electric fireplaces safer than traditional fireplaces during the holidays?

When compared to gas and wood-burning fireplaces, electric fireplaces are often the safest option and eliminate many potential safety worries. For example, homeowners with traditional fireplaces must take a great deal of care to ensure their fireplace is regularly inspected and cleaned. Failure to do so can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning and house fires, both serious safety hazards that can result in illness, injury, and even death.  

As an alternative, with an electric fireplace, there is virtually no maintenance required, and no venting or inspections are necessary. No dangerous smoke or fumes are produced, making them an ideal solution not only for the safety-conscious but also for anyone dealing with allergies or breathing sensitivities. If troubleshooting is required, there’s still no need to climb on the roof or call a chimney sweep to resolve any issues.  

To learn more about electric fireplace manufacturers, products, and models, please use our electric fireplace buying guide and utility cost calculator tool to assist your electric fireplace decision.

Overall, If you are interested in learning to safely decorate your home and fireplace with Christmas decorations this season, we created a complete list above to show you how to use fireplace Christmas decorations safely.

Make sure your friends and family keep their distance from any open fire — by approximately three feet. Keep stockings short to avoid a potential fire from starting due to burning embers and keep the flue open. 

If you are considering an electric fireplace, it is safer than a traditional or wood-burning fireplace. Whether it’s an electric or non-electric, purchase a small fire extinguisher and test with family members about its use within an emergency. 

Avoid burning any wrapping paper or other flammable material on Christmas morning or Christmas eve. Keep your tree watered and hydrated. Although home fires are rare, they still happen every year. 

For official guidelines and safety tips, consider visiting the national fire protection association website or consult a fireplace expert for additional best practices. Enjoy your holiday season!