Winter may be the time for holiday cheer, but it’s also when a large number of fatal fires occur.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, one in three fire deaths in Canada occurs between November and January. Lt. Insp. Sean Lillis of the Saanich Fire Department attributed this to people being more preoccupied during the holidays.
People let their guards down, he explained. They forget about pots on the stove, candles near decorations or cigarettes near furniture.
As the holiday season is fast approaching, the hustle and bustle of everyone preparing for Christmas is increasing, we would like you to please remember a few fire safety tips as you enjoy this festive season
— Saanich Fire (@SaanichFire) November 26, 2019
Lillis emphasized that kitchen fires are common, especially during the holidays. He recommended that chefs, both professional and amateur, turn off the stove or appoint someone else to keep an eye on things before leaving the room.
Trees can also be cause for concern over the holidays as 25 per cent of winter fires start with a Christmas tree and a heat source. Trees should always be kept at least three feet away from all heat sources because they can dry out quickly and then catch on fire, Lillis said.
Using candles as holiday decorations isn’t as common nowadays and many who still use them opt for the LED versions, Lillis noted. However, folks who prefer the real thing need to keep them in a sturdy holder, away from decorations and should always blow them out before leaving the room.
There has been a shift towards LED string lights over the years, but Lillis pointed out that the wires should still be checked for fraying or loose bulbs. The lights should also be hung with clips, not nails or anything that may pierce the cord. Lillis also emphasized that it’s never a good idea for people to try repairing their own burnt-out string lights. Like candles, the lights should also be unplugged when no one is in the room.
Christmas time in Greater Victoria is almost always rainy and this can cause problems for residents who want their homes to be bright enough to be seen from outer space. Outdoor outlets should be covered and indoor lights should never be used outside, Lillis advised. He also points out that overloaded power bars can cause fires even if they have a breaker, and that while it may reduce tripping hazards, running extension cords under carpets isn’t safe.
Lillis also noted that smoke alarms should be checked and all house guests should be briefed on the home escape plan.