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The holiday season is approaching quickly, and with it typically comes many positive thoughts and memories. But unfortunately, the holiday season is also a time where preventable residential fires are on the rise. November 24 – 30 is National Home Fire Safety Week, and the Canada Safety Council is reminding all Canadians that fire safety should be especially paramount in their minds as part of their holiday planning. 

During the holiday season, the fireplace in a home is not only a source of warmth but also a centrepiece for gatherings with family and friends. Like any home appliance, it should be safe, properly maintained, and good for the environment – inside and out. Ensure the area around the fireplace is free of debris. Debris like holiday decorations and wrapping paper can cause a fire if they are too close to the fireplace.

Fire is often a central element of holiday celebrations, specifically surrounding fireplaces and candles. Open flames can be the catalyst to many problems if not tended to properly. Watch for the following steps you can take to keep celebratory flames from turning on you.

  • Do not leave open flames, including candles and fireplaces, unattended or smouldering.
  • Use a screen in front of your fireplace to avoid having sparks or embers flying your way.
  • Do not burn wrapping paper in the fireplace. Because of the way it is treated, it burns quickly and intensely which could result in a flash fire.
  • Keep candles away from flammable items such as curtains and trees, and ensure your candles stay on a stable, level surface.
  • Where possible, use battery-powered candles to avoid the risk of an open flame entirely.

Cooking often accompanies the holiday season as families prepare special meals to mark the occasion. Be sure never to leave your cooking unattended, though, as this is the leading cause of kitchen fires. Use a timer to act as a reminder that the oven is on.

Should fire catch, never turn on the overhead fan — it could spread the flames. Immediately call the fire department and leave your home if the fire can’t be put out quickly.

Ensure that your home is safe from fire this holiday season by following these tips:

  • If you’re buying a real Christmas tree, be cautioned that dry trees are a fire hazard. Check that the tree is fresh by tapping it on the ground — if needles fall, it’s an indicator that the tree is too dry.
  • For artificial trees, make sure yours is marked as ‘fire-resistant’ and bears the Canadian Standards Association label.
  • Trees, artificial or real, should be kept away from heat sources including heat registers, fireplaces and floor heaters.
  • Metallic tree decorations should be avoided as well, since they could make contact with defective light wiring and become a shock hazard.
  • When leaving your home – even for a short period of time – be sure to unplug lights.

It’s worth remembering that although the holiday season offers more potential fire hazards, unexpected blazes don’t wait until the holidays to strike. Be sure that your smoke alarms are functional all year round. You should have one per level of your house, and replace the batteries twice a year.

The Canada Safety Council wishes you a happy, safe and calm holiday season!

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For more information, please contact:
Lewis Smith
Communications/Media Program Coordinator
(613) 739-1535 (ext. 228)