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12 fire safety tips for the holidays

December is here, and with it comes another holiday season. Candles, fresh-cut Christmas trees, turkey, holiday party punch, decorating the house in lights – we look forward to enjoying all of these things this time of year. But, did you know these are all fire hazards, too?

Just in time for the holidays, the Fire Marshal’s Public Fire Safety Council has released a list of 12 fire safety tips. Fire safety is an important topic at any time of year, but there are a few added precautions you can take to keep your family and loved ones safe this holiday season:

12 Holiday Fire Safety Tips

1. Water fresh trees daily – Keep the base of the trunk in water at all times, and place your tree away from any ignition source like fireplaces, heaters or candles.

2. Check all lights before decorating – Discard any sets of lights that are frayed or damaged. Never plug more than 3 strings of lights together, and don’t connect LED to conventional lights.

3. Make sure smoke alarms work and replace any over 10 years old – It’s the law to have working smoke alarms on every storey of your home and outside sleeping areas. Test alarms monthly and replace batteries once per year.

4. Install a carbon monoxide (CO) alarm – If your home has a wood or gas fireplace, an attached garage or other fuel-burning device, you must have a working CO alarm outside every sleeping area- it’s the law.

5. Develop and practice a home fire escape plan – make sure everyone in your family knows it, including guests who are staying over the holidays.

6. Use extension cords safely – Avoid overloading plugs and extension cords, as this can cause overheating and fire. Never put cords under rugs.

7. Give space heaters space – Keep them at least 1 metre away from things that could catch fire.

8. Avoid using real candles, go flameless instead – If you use real candles, keep them out of reach of children and pets, and remember to blow them out before leaving the room.

9. Keep matches and lighters out of kids’ reach – If you smoke, have only one lighter or book of matches and keep it with you at all times.

10. Watch what you heat – Always stay in the kitchen and pay attention to your 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, then turn off the heat.

11. Encourage smokers to smoke outside – Careless smoking is the leading cause of fatal fires. Use large, deep ashtrays that can’t be knocked over, and make sure cigarette butts are properly extinguished.

12. If under the influence of alcohol, avoid cooking or smoking – Alcohol is often a common factor in many fatal fires.

Source: Fire Marshal’s Public Fire Safety Council: safeathome.ca/12days

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12 tips for holiday fire safety

1. Water fresh trees daily

2. Check all lights before decorating

3. Make sure smoke alarms work, replace if more than 10 years old

4. Install a carbon monoxide detector- it’s the law

5. Develop and practice a fire escape plan

6. Use extension cords safely

7. Give space heaters at least one metre of space

8. Avoid using real candles- go flameless instead

9, Keep matches and lighter out of kids’ reach

10. Watch what you heat- pay attention to your cooking

11. Encourage smokers to smoke outside

12. If under the influence of alcohol, avoid cooking or smoking

Source: Fire Marshal’s Public Fire Safety Council: safeathome.ca/12days

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About the author

Sybil Millar

Sybil Millar

Sybil Millar is the Communications Advisor for the Ross Tilley Burn Centre, Critical Care and Infectious Diseases programs at Sunnybrook.

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