The holidays can be a jolly good time if dangers from tree-trimming to cooking the big dinner are avoided.
According to Langford Fire Rescue, many households engage in holiday activities that serve as some of the leading causes of home fires.
“As everyone gets busier during the holidays, we often become rushed, distracted or tired,” said Kerry Zado, deputy chief of Langford Fire Rescue. “That’s when home fires are more likely to occur. … By taking some preventative steps and following simple rules of thumb, most home fires can be prevented.”
The season can stay festive and safe with minor adjustments to holiday cooking and decorating.
Keep anything that can catch fire away from the stovetop, and turn it off when you leave the room, even if it’s for a short period of time. When simmering, boiling, baking or roasting food, check it regularly and use a timer to remind you that you’re cooking. Langford Fire Rescue also suggests creating a “kid-free zone” of at least one metre around the stove and areas where hot food and drinks are prepared.
December is also the peak month for home candle fires. Langford Fire Rescue encourages West Shore residents to consider using flameless candles. With traditional candles, keep them at least 30 centimetres from anything flammable and remember to blow them out when you leave the room. Use sturdy candle holders that won’t tip over and are placed on uncluttered surfaces. Avoid using candles in the bedroom and never leave a child alone in a room with a burning candle.
“The holidays can quickly turn from joyful to tragic when a fire occurs,” Zado said. “By taking simple precautions, people can avoid potential fire hazards, and make this time of year a healthy and happy one.”
According to the National Fire Protection Association, fire departments annually respond to an average of 250 structure fires caused by Christmas trees.
• If you have an artificial tree, be sure it’s labeled, certified or identified by the manufacturer as fire-retardant.
• For a fresh tree, make sure the green needles don’t fall off when touched; cut an inch or two from the base of the trunk and be sure to water it daily.
• Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit, and is at least a metre from any heat source.
• Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords, or loose bulb connections. • Connect no more than three strands of mini-string sets and a maximum of 50 bulbs for screw-in bulbs.
• Never use lit candles to decorate the tree.
• Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving the home or going to bed.
• After Christmas, get rid of the tree. Dried-out trees are a fire hazard and should not be left in the home or garage, or placed outside the home.
•Bring outdoor electrical lights inside after the holidays to prevent hazards and make them last longer.
• Visit www.nfpa.org/holiday for more information and safety tips.