Nothing says “the holidays” quite like strings of lights twinkling in the dark, candles, a roaring fire in the fireplace and a beautiful decorated tree in the living room. But don’t forget the importance of fire prevention and make sure you’re doing everything you can to keep yourself and your family safe over the holidays.
Water fresh Christmas trees daily
It is time to decorate your Christmas tree, and if you’re using a real tree, buy a fresh tree and keep the base of the trunk in water at all times. Keep your tree away from any type of heat source such as the fireplace, heaters or candles. When buying an artificial tree, look for the label “Fire Resistant.” Although this label does not mean the tree won’t catch on fire, it does indicate the tree will resist burning and should extinguish quickly.
• Don’t hang Christmas stockings from the mantel when the fireplace is in use.
• Never burn gift wrappings, boxes, cartons, or other types of packing in the fireplace. They burn too rapidly and generate far too much heat.
• Always use a screen in front of the fireplace to protect against flying sparks.
• Never use gasoline or any other flammable liquids to start a fire.
• Use only seasoned and dried wood.
• Never leave the fire unattended
• Clean the ashes regularly. Place the ashes in a metal container and store outside away from flammable materials.
Check all holiday light sets before decorating
Before you put the lights on the tree or around the front window check all the cords carefully. Dispose of any sets that are frayed or damaged. Always use CSA approved lights, indoors and outdoors. Check each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections, and throw out damaged sets. Use no more than three standard-size sets of lights per single extension cord.
Use Extension cords carefully
Extension cords should be used only as a temporary connection. Make sure cords never go under rugs as this can damage them and the cord can a cause a fire.
Make sure all smoke alarms are working
With family and friends spending extra time at your home over the holidays, it is a great time to check your smoke alarms. Replace smoke alarms that are over 10 years old. You need working smoke alarms on every level of your home and outside all sleeping areas. Test your alarms to make sure they will alert you and your family if a fire occurs, so you can safely escape.
More Smoke Alarm Information
Make sure the carbon monoxide alarms are working
Carbon monoxide is an invisible, odourless gas that can quickly kill you. Replace any carbon monoxide alarms over seven years old. Installing carbon monoxide alarms in your home will alert you to the presence of this deadly gas. For maximum protection, a carbon monoxide alarm should be located outside primary sleeping areas, in sleeping areas and in each level of your home. The human body is most vulnerable to the effects of carbon monoxide during sleeping hours. In order to function properly the unit must not be blocked by furniture or draperies. Carbon Monoxide is virtually the same weight as air and therefore the alarm protects you in a high or low location.
More CO Alarm Information
Have a fire escape plan
Develop and practise a home fire escape plan with all members of your family. Make sure someone is in charge of helping young children, older adults or anyone else that may need assistance to evacuate. Once outside, stay outside and call 911 from a cell phone or neighbours house. Once you are out of your home, do not go back in for any reason, the firefighters are best equipped to rescue anyone trapped inside.
Home Escape Plan Information
Be candle safe!
Candles can set the mood for a holiday celebration, but remember to always blow out candles before leaving the room or going to bed. Keep lit candles safely away from children and pets and anything that can burn, such as curtains, upholstery, or holiday decorations. Always use non-flammable holders, and place candles out of reach for children and place them where they will not be knocked over.
Store matches and lighters out of sight
We often keep matches and lighters close at hand to light holiday candles, but matches and lighters can be dangerous in the hands of children. Keep matches and lighters safely stored at all times.
Space heater safety
If you are using space heaters to help take the chill off, remember to keep them at least one metre (3 feet) away from anything that can burn such as upholstery, curtains, or holiday decorations. Don’t forget to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
Keep an eye on what you heat!
It is easy to get distracted from what we are doing, during a holiday gathering. Cooking fires most commonly occur when cooking is left unattended. Always stay in the kitchen when cooking; especially if using oil or high temperatures. If a pot catches fire, carefully slide a tight-fitting lid over the pot to smother the flames and then turn off the heat. Keep anything that can catch fire — oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains — away from your stovetop. Grease and fat fires are a leading cause of home fires in Canada, so use when doing this type of cooking. Here’s what to do if grease in a pot or pan catches fire:
• Smother the flames by covering the pan with a lid.
• Do not remove the lid until the pan is completely cooled.
• Turn off the heat immediately.
• Use baking soda (flour can be explosive) on shallow grease fires.
• Never turn on the overhead fan, as this could spread the fire.
• Never throw water on a grease fire.
Careless smoking is the leading cause of fatal fires. If you do allow smoking indoors use large, deep ashtrays that can’t be knocked over and make sure cigarette butts are properly extinguished.
Drinking and the holidays
With all the festivities this time of year, it is important to keep a close eye on anyone cooking or smoking while under the influence of alcohol. Alcohol is often one of the major factors in many fatal fires.
Have a safe and happy holiday season!