Cranbrook, BC (December 7, 2021) – As our lives get busier during the holidays, it is easy to become rushed or distracted and that is when home fires are most likely to happen.
Cranbrook Fire and Emergency Services encourages you to be aware of the potential risks and consider adjusting your holiday decorating and cooking to make sure your holiday plans remain festive and safe for all.
“Simple, preventative steps can easily prevent most home fires during the holidays,” says Murray Robertson, Fire Prevention Coordinator with Cranbrook Fire & Emergency Services.
According to the NFPA, fire departments annually respond to an average of over 250 structure fires caused by Christmas trees. Half are caused by electrical problems, and one in four resulted from a heat source that is too close to the tree. There are tips for picking, placing, and lighting the tree:
- If you have an artificial tree, be sure it is labeled, certified, or identified by the manufacturer as fire-retardant.
- If you choose a fresh tree, make sure the green needles do not fall off when touched; before placing it in the stand, cut 1-2” from the base of the trunk. Add water to the tree stand and be sure to water it daily.
- Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit and is at least three feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces, space heaters, radiators, candles and heat vents or lights.
- Use lights that have the label of an independent testing laboratory, and make sure you know whether they are designed for indoor or outdoor use.
- 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 fifty 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.
With unattended cooking being the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries, it is important to stay in the kitchen while you are cooking.
Candles are widely used in homes throughout the holidays, and December is the peak month for home candle fires. Consider using flameless candles, which look and smell like real candles. However, if you do use traditional candles, keep them at least 12” away from anything that can burn, and remember to blow them out when you leave the room or go to bed. Use candle holders that are sturdy, will not tip over and are placed on uncluttered surfaces.
“The holidays can quickly turn from joyful to tragic when a fire occurs,” says Robertson. “By taking simple precautions, people can avoid potential fire hazards, and make this time of year a healthy and happy one.”