By Jasmine Franklin
It’s the image played in humorous Christmas movies over and over again — a Christmas tree on fire resulting in the home going up in flames.
As funny as the chaos is in film, Ponoka residents are being reminded to take fire precaution around the Christmas season during National Home Fire Safety Week Nov. 24 to 30.
“The winter holiday time is a very high-risk period for fire,” said Donna Noble, Ponoka’s fire prevention co-ordinator. “There’s a significant increase in candle-related fires.”
With the holiday season approaching filled with baking and guests, fire risks tend to peak, but there are several ways to ensure a fire-proof Christmas.
The Christmas tree
When purchasing a real tree, be sure it is watered often making the tree less flammable.
“One way to test a tree for flammability is to take a pine needle and bend it in half,” Noble said. “If it snaps, it’s dry and flammable.”
Be sure to place the tree away from the fireplace and ensure it is not blocking any exits. All trees should be at least one metre away from flames or heat sources.
When purchasing an artificial tree, purchase one that is fire-resistant.
Christmas lights should be checked regularly for broken or cracked sockets and loose connections. Frayed cords should be replaced and be sure to unplug all lights before leaving the house or going to sleep.
Noble stressed that candles should not be used to decorate the tree.
Never leave burning candles unattended and secure them in holders or stable surfaces away from children, trees, curtains or any flammable objects.
Noble said unattended cooking is something has proven to be a big risk. While cooking, avoid wearing loose clothing that may catch on fire, make sure things like paper towels are kept away from the stove and never leave cooking unattended.
In case of a stove fire, do not turn on the overhead fan as it could spread fire.
As for general fire safety, check all fire alarms to ensure they’re working and turned on and Noble said to inform everyone about a fire escape plan — something people most often neglect to do.
Ashtrays are also an important asset when having people in your home. Have deep ashtrays easily accessible so items such as flower pots are avoided to be used.
Driving during the holiday season is also an important factor to consider.
“Take your time and adjust to the driving conditions,” Noble said. “Especially in the first few snowfalls, allow yourself that extra time.”
Wildlife crossing the road is also a factor that should be taken into consideration