Holiday Fire Prevention Tips

According to the Office of the Fire Commissioner, fire-related deaths in Alberta homes double during the holiday season, when compared to the rest of the year. So, it is fitting to say that the holiday season tends to be fire season. Over the holidays, fires are most often caused by heating equipment, cooking, smoking, candles and electrical-related dangers. Also, live Christmas trees can easily become a holiday hazard. Follow these fire safety tips and enjoy a safe holiday season this year.

A real Christmas tree can be real dangerous

If not properly maintained, having a live Christmas tree in the house can drastically increase your chances of experiencing a house fire. A burning tree can fill a room with fire and harmful gases in seconds. If you prefer a freshly cut tree, make sure the bottom of the tree is cut on a diagonal to help it absorb water and then keep the tree trunk immersed in water at all times. Place your tree away from any heat sources that will cause it to dry out and make it more likely to go up in flames.

When you go out, blow out ... the candles

Candles should only be used under the supervision of a responsible adult and should never be left unattended. Lit candles should never be put in a Christmas tree or used near anything that could catch fire. Keep candles in sturdy holders on a stable surface and away from drafts, curtains, children and pets. Always blow out candles before you go out, leave the room or go to sleep.

It doesn't belong in the fireplace

Gift wrapping, boxes, cartons and other holiday packing supplies may seem like great kindling, however these materials burn far too quickly and generate too much heat when burned in the fireplace. Similarly, never use a Christmas tree for firewood or hang Christmas stockings from the mantel when the fireplace is in use. Only use a small quantity of dried wood and always place a screen in front of your fireplace to protect against flying sparks.

Cook with care

In Alberta, cooking is the number one cause of house fires. Stovetop fires can start in the blink of an eye, so never leave stovetop cooking unattended and store combustible items - tea towels, wooden or plastic spoons and paper towels - away from the stove. Over the holidays, be careful when consuming alcohol while cooking and plan holiday events in advance, so you have enough time to safely prepare your meal.

Space heaters need space

With colder temperatures upon us, many turn to space heaters to warm up indoors. But, using a space heater that is too close to bedding, furniture, curtains, and holiday decorations may cause these combustible items to catch on fire. Remember that space heaters also need space and should always be kept at least one metre (three feet) away from flammable materials. Make sure to turn space heaters off before leaving the house or going to bed.

Plug-in the right place

Holiday cheer is often displayed through a myriad of lights and decorations. But when plugging in those pretty white lights, an inflatable Santa or blowup Rudolph with his flashing red nose make sure you do not overload any electrical outlets! Overloading electrical outlets is unsafe and should be avoided, even for short durations of time. Additionally, never use indoor extension cords outdoors, do not run cords under carpets or rugs and be diligent in discarding cords that are frayed or damaged.

Reprinted, in part, from the Alberta Municipal Affairs, Office of the Fire Commissioner