Ounce of Prevention

Roasting chestnuts over an open fire? Exercise caution

Guest author: This entry was written by Charles Opuch, a fourth year York University nursing student placed with the RBC First Office for Injury Prevention

Just as we gear up for the holiday season it is important to remember that each year, many tragic residential fires happen during the season. Most fire tragedies are preventable. According to statistics from the Ontario Fire Marshall’s Office, since 1980 fire death rates in Ontario have dropped by more than 60%. However, reports indicate that there was an increase in the number of fatalities last December compared to December 2009. http://www.ofm.gov.on.ca/

The following are some safety tips to ensure that your holiday doesn’t turn into a disaster.

  • Cooking: Look while you cook. Unattended cooking is the leading cause of kitchen fires. Wear tight fitting clothes or rolled up sleeves when cooking and keep all combustible materials a safe distance from the stove.
  • Alcohol: Cooking or smoking while under the influence of alcohol can be deadly. Keep a close eye on any drinkers in your household and make sure all cigarettes are properly extinguished and the stove is off before going to bed.
  • Candles: Keep candles in a sturdy holder away from children, pets and combustible material. Snuff them out before leaving the room
  • Space heaters: Keep portable heaters at least one metre away from anything that can burn – including you. Don’t use your heaters to dry shoes or clothes.
  • Heating appliances: Remember to have your furnace inspected each year by a licensed technician. Your chimney should always be cleaned and inspected annually to prevent problems that may cause a build up of carbon monoxide. A carbon monoxide alarm will alert you to the presence of this deadly gas.
  • Smoke alarms: It is the law in Ontario to have working smoke alarms. The fire service recommends you install one on every level of your home and outside all sleeping areas. Test your alarm regularly and change your batteries at least once a year.
  • Formulate and practise a home escape plan: If a fire does occur in your home, everyone must get out as quickly as possible. Develop a fire escape plan and practise it with your entire family.

For more tips and resources visit:

About the author


Injury Prevention Team