Don’t Invite Disaster to Your Holiday Celebration

Your guests have departed, and the dishes are cleared away. It is time to turn out the Christmas tree lights and go to bed. But have you forgotten something? What if one of your guests accidentally dropped a cigarette between the cushions on the couch where it could smoulder undetected for hours? The first you may know of it is when the smoke alarm shrieks its warning at 4:00 am. If you don’t have a smoke alarm, you may not wake up at all.

According to the Ontario Fire Marshall’s Office, the number of fires and fire deaths typically rises sharply during the holiday season. Gatherings of family and friends can mean an increase in cooking activity, which is the leading cause of home fires. Alcohol consumption also tends to increase at this time of year and is cited as a contributing factor in many of Ontario’s fire deaths. Add candles, holiday decorations and heating equipment to the mix, and the potential for disaster is great.

Even though the fire death rate has dropped tremendously in the last 25 years, the holiday season still remains a perilous time of year. December continues to have almost twice as many fire fatalities as the average month.

You can protect your home and your family from fire with these simple common sense safety tips from the Ontario Fire Marshal’s Office.

Cooking: Look while you cook unattended cooking is the leading cause of kitchen fi res. Wear tight fi tting or rolled up sleeves when cooking and keep all combustible materials a safe distance from the stove.

Alcohol: Cooking or smoking while under the influence of alcohol can be deadly. Keep a close eye on any drinkers in your household and make sure all cigarettes are properly extinguished and the stove is off before going to bed.

Candles: Keep candles in a sturdy holder away from children, pets and combustible materials. Snuff them out before leaving the room.

Christmas Trees: Artificial trees create less risk than natural ones. If you do buy a natural tree, get a fresh one and keep the base of the trunk in water at all times. Keep the tree away from all heat sources and make sure it doesn’t block a doorway. Discard any broken or frayed sets of lights. Lit candles should never be placed on or near the Christmas tree. When the tree starts to dry out, it’s time to throw it away.

Smoke Alarms: It is the law in Ontario to have working smoke alarms. There needs to be one on every level of your home and outside all sleeping areas. Test the alarms regularly and change the batteries at least once a year.

Home Escape Plan: If a fire does occur in your home, everyone must get out as quickly as possible. Develop a fire escape plan and practice it with the entire family so they can remember the plan at this hectic time of year.

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