We love the festivities that come along with Christmas. A time to celebrate with family and friends – parties, family, gifts, decorating or perhaps a getaway or holidays. It’s also a time that people can potentially let their guard down and the risk of fire increases. The Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs has provided a fantastic 12 Days of Holiday Fire Safety that we wanted to share with you to help make Christmas safe and enjoyable.
Day 1 – Water fresh trees daily
Do you put up a fresh Christmas tree? Buy or cut a fresh tree and keep the base of the trunk in water at all times. This will help them from drying out as much. Trees drink a lot of water throughout the day. When deciding where to set up your tree, keep it away from any ignition source like the fireplace, heaters or candles.
Day 2 – Check all sets of lights before decorating
Before you set up lights in the tree or anywhere else, check the cords closely. Discard any sets that are frayed or damaged. Always use lights (both indoor and outdoor) that are CSA approved. Some lights purchased off internet shopping sites may not have the safety certification and lack standards.
Day 3 – Make sure to have working smoke alarms
It’s really quite simple. You need to have working smoke alarms on every floor of your home. With family and friends visiting, take that extra minute to check your smoke alarms. Replace them if they are over 10 years old. A new smoke alarm would make a great stocking stuffer for someone too!
Day 4 – Make sure you have working carbon monoxide alarms
Carbon monoxide (CO) is an invisible odourless gas that can kill you quickly. Replace any CO alarms over seven years old.
Day 5 – Make sure everyone knows how to get out safely if a fire occurs
Develop and practice a home fire escape plan with all members of the household. Make sure someone helps young children, older adults or anyone else that may need help to evacuate. If you have guests staying with you over the holidays, it’s a good idea to familiarize them with the fire escape plan. Once outside, stay outside and call 911.
Day 6 – Use extension cords wisely
People often use extension cords for that extra set of lights or the dancing Santa in the corner. Extension cords should ONLY BE TEMPORARY power connections. Make sure power cords never go under rugs as this can cause damage to the cord and cause fire.
Day 7 – Give space heaters space
If you’re using space heaters to take the chill out of the air, remember to keep them at least one metre (3 feet) away from anything that can burn such as curtains, upholstery, Christmas trees or other decorations.
Day 8 – When you go out, blow out!
Candles can set the perfect mood for a holiday celebration or add a lovely holiday scent to a room. Remember to always blow them out before leaving the room or going to bed. Keep lit candles away from children and pets and anything that can burn. If burning them, put them on a surface that is not flammable in non-flammable containers. Best of all, don’t burn candles and purchase a set of battery operated, no-flame candles and use them instead.
Day 9 – Keep matches and lighters out of the sight and reach of children
People often keep matches and lighters handy to light holiday candles, but they can be deadly in the hands of children. Keep them out of sight and reach at all times.
Day 10 – Watch what you heat!
The holiday season is one of the busiest times of the year and it’s easy to get distracted from what you are doing. 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.
Day 11 – Ask smokers to smoke outside
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.
Day 12 – There’s more to responsible drinking than taking a cab home
With all the festive cheer, keep a close eye on anyone attempting to cook or smoke while under the influence of alcohol. Alcohol is often a common factor in many fatal fires. Also, please remind your guests not to drink and drive. Call a cab or have a designated driver.
We hope you keep these tips in mind while you celebrate and have a wonderful Christmas season.
The tips are sourced from the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs website: https://www.oafc.on.ca/holiday-fire-safety Many of the above tips have more information available as well.