oppsWith Thanksgiving behind us, many of you are readying to ring in the season with decorations in the centerpiece of the family room, including placement of the Christmas tree, with stockings hung from a mantle above the fireplace.

The Chimney Safety Institute of America knows the importance of these traditions, but also know this: that stockings and any other holiday items are hung or placed around your fireplace are done so with the 3 Foot Rule in mind.

Under the guideline, the chimney industry and our partners at the National Fire Protection Association remind you to keep all combustible materials more than 3 feet away from your fireplace or wood-burning stoves.

We certainly understand the tradition of hanging stocking or garland from the fireplace mantle. After all, a home’s fireplace is one of those special spaces for families to gather. So if you still want to have the stockings up, simply remove them each time you plan to burn a fire. Think of a safe spot to relocate your decorations until the fire burns out and return them to the hearth when all the embers die off.

That goes for the bought-in-a-box Christmas tree as well; you don’t want it to be so close to the heat that it melts. For live trees, their limbs begin to dry out as the weeks pass.

And when your family is together around the fireplace this holiday season, keep in mind tips that are aimed at keeping young children safe around the fireplace, including a screen to keep little fingers from touching the hot glass and flames.

A little bit of planning can help make your holiday as safe as it is beautifully decorated!