Fire Safety During the Holiday Season
There’s a chill in the air, which is a signal that winter is in the offing, along with the holiday season. Before long, it will be time to bring the decorations out of storage, unpack the ornaments from their boxes and festoon the house or condominium with lights and greenery in preparation for a month of celebrating with friends, family and co-workers.
The holiday season brings with it great joy – and great stress – and a need to take another look at safety measures. Along with all the fripperies and festivities come new hazards that must be considered in order to prevent fires and injuries during what is generally a happy time of year.
Let’s look at some of the causes of holiday fires and the steps we can take to prevent them.
How to Fireplace Safety Tips:
With their open flames, fireplaces are a natural fire hazard, so use care:
- Don’t leave a fire unattended and don’t let it smoulder.
- Use only seasoned, dry wood as fuel; a Christmas tree is not appropriate.
- Make sure to have the chimney flue cleaned and open prior to building a fire.
- Place a screen in front of the fireplace to guard against flying sparks, ensuring that it fits tightly.
- Don’t toss wrapping paper into the fire, because it can ignite quickly and burn intensely, causing a flash fire.
- Keep the area around the fireplace clear of all decorations when a fire is lit; this includes stockings.
- Place the fire logs toward the rear of the fireplace, preferably on a grate.
- Don’t overload the fireplace with logs.
- Always keep a fire extinguisher nearby.
- Wood should be stacked and covered outdoors and off the ground.
Candle Safety Tips:
Holiday décor or ritual calls for candles in abundance, and it’s easy to forget that such a lovely glow is created by an open flame that can reach temperatures of 1.400 C. During much of the year, most candle fires begin in bedrooms, but during the holidays, the flames find their way to decorations. Prevent candle fires by:
- Blow out candles before leaving a room or going to bed for the night.
- Display candles in burn-resistant containers that are wide enough to catch dripping wax.
- Keep candles away from windows with curtains or blinds that may blow over and catch fire.
- Don’t let candles burn down completely; douse their flames when they are within a few centimetres of the container or holder.
- Keep candles away from high traffic areas where children or pets could upend them.
How to Holiday Decorating Safety Tips:
- Buy decorations that are non-combustible, flame resistant and non-conductive.
- Don’t hang metallic ornaments on a tree. Contact with defective wiring can turn them into shock hazards.
- Place your breakable ornaments high on the tree so they won’t come into contact with children or pets, shatter and cause potential injuries.
Outdoor Christmas Lights Safety:
Outdoor lighting isn’t a common source of holiday fires, but it’s still important to be mindful of their potential as fire hazards.
- Only use lights approved by the Canadian Standards Association.
- Check your light strings and discard those that show wear and tear or are cracked or broken. Do this on the ground, where it is easier to handle.
- Don’t connect more than three strings of lights together.
- Point bulbs downward so that moisture can’t build up inside.
- Turn out the lights before going to bed and leaving the house so there is no short circuit that could start a fire.
Indoor Lights Safety Tips:
Some of the same cautions given for outdoor lights apply to indoor lights, too, as well as these tips:
- Don’t use electric lights on metallic trees. If the system is faulty, anyone touching it could be shocked or electrocuted.
- Don’t overload electrical outlets.
Christmas Tree Fire Safety Tips:
Both real and artificial trees pose hazards that can be easily avoided:
- Don’t use lit candles on the tree; it’s a disaster waiting to happen.
- When buying a live tree, check its freshness by tapping it on the ground. If dry needles fall off, you are looking at a highly flammable tree.
- For artificial trees, make sure you buy one that is fire resistant. If it does catch fire, it will resist burning and the fire will be easy to extinguish.
- Warm rooms dry out trees, making them flammable, so make sure the stand is filled daily with fresh water.
- Keep the tree away from fireplaces, heaters, radiators and any other heat source.
- Dispose of live trees within two weeks or when needles begin to fall so the tree isn’t a fire hazard.
Why add danger to the holiday season when a few precautions can ensure that it is the joyous time of year it should be?