Fire-related deaths double in Alberta during the holiday season, so follow these safety tips to keep you and your family safe.
Tips for a fire-safe holiday include water natural Christmas trees daily and keeping them away from fireplaces, heaters and candles. Also, check all lights for loose bulbs and worn or broken cords and replace any damaged sets of lights.
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for number of light strands to connect and remember that lights are either for indoor or outdoor use – not both.
Place candles in a glass holder and blow them out before leaving a room or going to bed. Turn off indoor and outdoor decorations before leaving the house or going to bed.
Be careful not to overload electrical outlets and never put cords under rugs.
Also, use electric appliances for deep frying instead of heating oil in a pot. Stay in the kitchen when cooking and if a pan catches fire, slide a lid over it and turn off the burner.
Keep space heaters at least one metre (three ft.) away from curtains, furniture and decorations.
“The holiday season is a wonderful time of year, but it is also a busy time and fire safety is often not on the top of our to-do list. It’s easy to forget to blow out candles or turn off your decorations when you’re rushing around. I want to take this opportunity to remind all Albertans to be fire smart when decorating and entertaining to ensure a safe and happy holiday season,” said Shaye Anderson, minister of Municipal Affairs.
Fire departments are ready to respond 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“However, taking steps to prevent fires from occurring is the safest choice you can make. We want families to celebrate safely and that starts with knowing where the potential hazards are and taking simple steps to prevent a fire from starting,” said Dan Lemieux, director of emergency services and fire chief, Strathcona County Emergency Services
No matter the time of year, Albertans should have and practise a fire escape plan with two ways out.
The fire escape plan should also be shared and reviewed with holiday visitors. Homes should have working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms which should be tested monthly, with the batteries replaced annually. Portable fire extinguishers should be placed in the kitchen, garage and by the furnace as an extra safety measure.
In 2016, there were 4,324 fires in Alberta resulting in 29 deaths and 166 injuries.
Cooking fires, fires caused by smokers’ materials and fires involving electrical wiring in the home accounted for 68% of all house fires from 2007 to 2016.
Other common fire causes include heating equipment and appliances.
Properly maintained smoke alarms provide reliable, early notification to allow families to escape and call the fire department.
From 2012 to 2016, smoke alarms did not activate due to power failure (no battery, dead battery or disconnection from home wiring) in 27% of the fires where a smoke alarm was present.