Christmas Fire Safety
Natural Christmas Trees
Before buying a tree, test for freshness by tapping the base of the tree on the ground or pulling lightly on a limb. If many needles fall off or needles can be easily pulled off, the tree is too dry.
Keep your tree as fresh as possible by placing the stump of the tree in a bucket of water out of doors until you are ready to decorate. Before setting up the tree inside the house, trim two inches off the stem diagonally so it can absorb water. Mount the tree securely in a large, wide based reservoir stand and add water each day to ensure the tree is well watered.
Choose a suitable location for your tree, ensuring that it is well away from heating sources and clear of all exits.
Though fireproof, metal or aluminum trees are electrically conductive and cannot be decorated with any electrical product. The metal can cause a short and a fire, or simply become "hot" or deliver a nasty shock. Aluminum trees can be illuminated by a colorful spotlight placed a safe distance from the tree, as set out in the manufacturer's instructions.
Decorations and Presents
Christmas wrapping and decorations can be highly combustible, and should be kept away from heat sources suach as candles, lamps, heaters, fireplaces and wood-burning stoves. Gift wrap and boxes should be collected as soon as gifts are opened, and discarded with the garbage or recycled where appropriate.
Indoor Lights and Electrical Decorations
Use only those lights that have been tested and labeled by an approved testing laboratory.
Examine light strings, cords, plugs and receptacles before using. Discard any that have frayed cords, cracks in the lamp-holders, or loose connections.
Do not overload electrical circuits or extension cords, and follow instructions on cord labels regarding connecting light strings to extension cords.
Never place furniture or other objects over electrical cords and in particular, never run electrical cords under a rug. With a rug covering a cord, any damage the cord may sustain can go unnoticed.
Always unplug the light string before attempting to replace a bulb. Ensure the voltage and/or wattage marked on the light set is compatible with the replacement light. This is especially important with mini-lights as they come in different voltages.
Avoid using timers on indoor lights. Tree lights could turn on when no one is at home and create a potential fire hazard. Always turn Christmas lights off before leaving home or going to sleep.
Decorate with flame-retardant or non-combustible materials. Have large, fire-proof, non-tip ashtrays available for guests who smoke. Empty ashtrays regularly into a metal container and after the party, check inside and under upholstery and trash cans for misplaced cigarette butts that may be smoldering.
- Use only those lights that have been tested and labeled by an approved testing laboratory and are marked for outdoor use.
- Turn off the electricity to the supply outlet before working on outdoor wiring.
- Keep electrical connections off the ground and clear of metal objects. Use insulated tape, not metal nails or tacks, to hold strings of outdoor lights in place. Be careful not to tape the cords either over, under, or along metal eaves troughs.
- Run cords above ground, keeping them out of puddles and snow.
- Tape all plug connections with plastic electrical tape to make them as watertight as possible. To prevent moisture from entering bulb sockets, bulbs should face the ground.
- When using spotlights or floodlights to light your home or trees, ensure they are marked for outdoor use to withstand snow and rain. Indoor floodlights should never be used outdoors.
Never use lit candles as decorations on Christmas trees. Place candles in non-tip candle holders and ensure they are well away from Christmas tree or other combustible materials. Never leave lit candles unattended and ensure that they are always out of reach of the children.
Matches and lighters are tools not toys! Store them up high where children can't reach them.
Have your chimney inspected at least once a year and have it cleaned if necessary. Always use a fire screen, and burn only material appropriate for fireplaces. Burn only wood - never burn paper or pine boughs in a fireplace as the burning particles can float up your chimney and onto your roof or into your yard. Never use flammable liquids in a fireplace. Because ashes may rekindle, never store them in your home. Always remove ashes from your fireplace in a metal container.
Fire Safety in the Kitchen
Practice fire safety in the kitchen during the festive season. Don't leave cooking food unattended - oil or fat can ignite. If you are faced with a grease fire, remember, put a lid on it and turn the heat source off! Always turn pot handles to the back of the stove when cooking, to avoid pots being pulled or knocked off.
12 Tips for Christmas
- Make sure your home is equipped with at least one working smoke detector on each level of your home. Have your family implement and practice an emergency home fire escape plan.
- Ensure that your home heating appliances (furnace, gas fireplaces, wood burning appliances, chimneys) are all in good clean, working condition.
- Carbon monoxide is a silent and deadly killer; know how to identify the symptoms and install a CO detector in your home.
- With the joyous season upon us again, use sound judgment when installing your Christmas lights. Make sure you are using UL or CSA approved units only, do not overload circuits, and make sure all cords & outlets are in good condition.
- When choosing your fresh Christmas tree, ensure that it does not have any loose needles or brown spots. Keep it as fresh as possible by re-cutting the base at an angle before placing it in the stand. Check the water level daily to ensure that it is well watered. Fresh trees are highly combustible especially when they are dry so keep it away from any open flame or heat sources. If you use an artificial tree, ensure that it has had a flame-retardant treatment.
- Gift wrapping paper and Christmas gift boxes are highly combustible. Make sure all such materials are at least three (3) feet away from heat sources such as fireplaces, candles, portable heaters, lamps, and all wood burning appliances. Wrapping paper is highly flammable and burns at extremely high temperatures because of the additives in the paper. All wrapping papers and boxes should be discarded in the garbage or recycled. Do not burn in the fireplace or wood-heating appliance.
- Use candles with extreme care; never leave lighted candles unattended especially with children around. Place candles in non-tip and noncombustible holders and ensure they are well away from the Christmas tree, Christmas decorations or other combustible materials.
- When cooking for the holiday season, practice kitchen fire safety with your family. Do not leave cooking food unattended especially when cooking with oil or fat. If grease or oil ignites, remember to cover the container with a lid and turn the heat source off. You should have an ABC fire extinguisher available in your home.
- Careless smoking remains a serious holiday fire hazard. Ensure that all cigarettes and matches are completely extinguished before discarding. Place all butts and matches in a metal container or dampen with water before discarding. Before going to sleep, check all furniture and garbage for smoldering embers.
- Outdoor Christmas lights are exactly that, for outdoors use only. Do not use them in your residence, especially on your tree or near any combustible materials. These lights generate too much heat for indoor use.
- Prior to going out or going to sleep, make sure that you shut off all indoor electrical decorations. This will minimize the potential for fire to occur.