12 days of fire safety tips

Suburbs

The holidays are an exciting time of the year with lots of celebrations and gatherings with family and friends. But it's also a very busy time and it can be easy to get distracted, or preoccupied. Statistics show that one in three fire deaths occur in the months of November, December and January. Follow these tips to ensure a safe and happy holiday season for you and your loved ones.

1. Water fresh trees daily 
If you're using a real tree make sure your tree stand holds plenty of water. Trees are thirsty. They may drink up to four litres of water per day. Check daily and supply fresh water as needed. Place your tree away from fireplaces, radiators, television sets and other sources of heat.
2. Check all sets of lights before decorating
Inspect your decorative lights before putting them on the tree or front window. If wiring is frayed or if the lights are old, they should be replaced.
3. Make sure you have working smoke alarms
Many people have relatives or friends from out of town stay over during the holidays. In Ontario, it is the law to have working smoke alarms on every floor and outside of all sleeping areas. Test your alarms to make sure they will alert your family and guests if a fire occurs, giving you the precious seconds you need to safely escape. 
4. Make sure you have working carbon monoxide alarms
Carbon monoxide is an invisible, odourless gas that can quickly kill you. If you're hosting over the holidays with more people in your house than usual make sure to replace any carbon monoxide alarms over seven years old. Installing carbon monoxide alarms in your home will alert you to the presence of this deadly gas. 
5. Make sure everyone knows how to get out safely if a fire occurs
It's important that everyone in your family, including guests know what to do if there is a fire. Practice your emergency plan with everyone staying in your household. 
6. Use extension cords wisely
People often use extension cords to shine an extra set of lights to decorate their house or a second tree. Make sure cords never go under rugs as this can cause damage to the cord and lead to a fire. Extension cords should only be used as a temporary connection.  
7. Give space heaters space
Even if snow doesn't fall on Christmas day it's always chilly in December. If you are using space heaters to help stay warm, keep them at least one metre (three feet) away from anything that can burn like curtains, upholstery or holiday decorations. 
8. When you go out, blow out
Candles can make the room smell like you've just baked an apple pie and set the mood during a holiday celebration. Never use candles on or near a Christmas tree, and avoid the use of flammable decorations. Remember to place candles in sturdy holders so they can't be knocked over at gatherings, and remember to blow them out before leaving the room and going to sleep. 
 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 matches and lighters can be deadly if they get in the hands of children. It's important to keep matches and lighters out of the reach of children. If you smoke, have only one lighter or book of matches and keep them with you at all times. 
 10. Watch what you heat
It's easy to get distracted when you are cooking for guests or hosting holiday dinners. Watch what you heat! Kitchen fires most commonly occur when cooking is left unattended. Always stay in the kitchen when you are cooking, especially if you are using oil or high temperatures. 
 11. Encourage smokers to smoke outside
Careless smoking is the leading cause of fatal fires. Smoke outside and tell your guests where there is a safe place to smoke outside. If you do allow smoking indoors use large, deep ashtrays that can't be knocked over and make sure cigarette butts are properly extinguished. 
 12. Drink responsibly
Many fire deaths are caused by people attempting to cook or smoke while under the influence of alcohol. If you drink, drink responsibly and keep an eye on others in your household who are drinking. Plan ahead and make sure guests have a place to sleep if they are from out of town. 

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