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Fire safety for holidays and special occasions

12 days of holiday fire safety

Day 1
Water fresh trees daily. It's time to trim that Christmas tree, and if you're using a real tree, buy a fresh tree and keep the base of the trunk in water at all times. Keep your tree away from any ignition source such as the fireplace, heaters or candles.

Day 2
Check all sets of lights before decorating. Before you put those lights on the tree or around the front window check the cords closely. Discard any sets that are frayed or damaged.

Day 3
Make sure you have working smoke alarms. With family and friends spending extra time at your home over the holidays, it's a great time to check your smoke alarms. Replace smoke alarms if they are over 10 years old. Remember that you need working smoke alarms on every storey of your home and outside all sleeping areas. Test your alarms to make sure they will alert you and your family if a fire occurs, giving you the precious seconds you need to safely escape.

Day 4
Make sure you have working carbon monoxide alarms. Carbon monoxide is an invisible, odourless gas that can quickly kill you. 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.

Day 5
Make sure everyone knows how to get out safely if a fire occurs. Develop and practise a home fire escape plan with all members of the household and make sure someone helps young children, older adults or anyone else that may need assistance to evacuate. Once outside, stay outside and call 911 from a cell phone or neighbours house.

Day 6
Use extension cords wisely. People often use extension cords for that extra set of lights or the dancing Santa in the corner. Extension cords should be used only as a temporary connection. Make sure cords never go under rugs as this can cause damage to the cord and cause a fire.

Day 7
Give space heaters space. If you are using space heaters to help take the chill off, remember to keep them at least one metre (3 feet) away from anything that can burn such as curtains, upholstery, or holiday decorations.

Day 8
When you go out, blow out! Candles can set the perfect mood for a holiday celebration, but remember to always blow out candles before leaving the room or going to bed. Keep lit candles safely away from children and pets and anything that can burn, such as curtains, upholstery, or holiday decorations.

Day 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 in the hands of children. If you smoke, have only one lighter or book of matches and keep them with you at all times.

Day 10
Watch what you heat! The holiday season is one of the busiest times of the year, which means it's easy to get distracted from what we are doing. Cooking fires most commonly occur when cooking is left unattended. Always stay in the kitchen when cooking – especially if using oil or high temperatures. If a pot catches fire, carefully slide a tight-fitting lid over the pot to smother the flames and then turn off the heat.

Day 11
Encourage smokers to smoke outside. Careless smoking is the leading cause of fatal fires. If you do allow smoking indoors use large, deep ashtrays that can't be knocked over and make sure cigarette butts are properly extinguished.

Day 12
There's more to responsible drinking than taking a cab home. With all the festive cheer this time of year, keep a close eye on anyone attempting to cook or smoke while under the influence of alcohol. Alcohol is all too often a common factor in many fatal fires.

Fireworks safety tips

Fireworks Safety Tips illustrated poster - Natural Resources Canada 

The use of consumer fireworks dramatically increases risk of fire and injury. Each year thousands of people, most often kids & teens, are injured while using consumer fireworks. To minimize the risk of fire and burn injury, the Ottawa Fire Service does not recommend family fireworks or informal neighbourhood displays. The Fire Service recommends attending public fireworks displays hosted by your municipality or other responsible organization. Please visit the NFPA website for more information.

If you still choose to have a family fireworks or an informal neighbourhood display, consult the fireworks bylaw beforehand. Here are some important safety tips to be followed:

  • Appoint a responsible person to be in charge. Only adults who are aware of the hazards and essential safety precautions should handle and discharge fireworks.
  • Carefully read and follow the label directions on fireworks packaging.
  • Always keep a water hose or pail of water close by when discharging fireworks.
  • Discharge fireworks well away from combustible materials like buildings, trees and dry grass.
  • Keep onlookers a safe distance away, upwind from the area where fireworks are discharged.
  • Light only one firework at a time and only when they are on the ground. Never try to light a firework in your hand or re-light dud fireworks. For dud fireworks, it is best to wait 30 minutes and soak them in a bucket of water. Dispose of them in a metal container.
  • Discharge fireworks only if wind conditions do not create a safety hazard.
  • Keep sparklers away from children. Sparklers burn extremely hot and can ignite clothing, cause blindness and result in severe burns. As the sparkler wire remains hot for some minutes after burnout, it should be immediately soaked in water to avoid injury.

Halloween fire safety tips

  • The best costumes are light coloured or bright and reflective.
  • Keep costumes short to avoid tripping and falling. Minimize the risk of contact with candles or other ignition sources by avoiding baggy pants, loose frills or billowing skirts.
  • Make sure that children know how to call 9-1-1 or their local emergency number if they experience an emergency.
  • Teach children to STOP, DROP and ROLL should their clothing catch fire: STOP immediately, 
  • DROP to the ground and cover face with hands and ROLL over and over to extinguish the flames.
  • Consider using only battery-powered lights or chemical light sticks in decorations.
  • Small battery-powered lights are the safest for use in jack-o’-lanterns. If you use a candle, try a tea light or votive candle in a non-combustible holder.
  • Always keep candles, matches and lighters out of the reach of children.
  • Place candlelit jack-o’-lanterns on sturdy surfaces, away from anything that can burn, such as curtains and Halloween costumes.
  • Keep decorations such as cornstalks and bales of hay away from candlelit jack-‘o-lanterns.
  • Ensure that electrical outlets are not overloaded with holiday lighting or special effects.
  • Check that the batteries in your smoke alarms work.