Sarah Twomey | Desjardins Group
Before the bright lights of holiday cheer and frozen winter days set in, here are 12 fire safety tips to remember so that you stay warm and cozy at home with your family this season:
1. Cooking calamities
November and December are the top months for grease and cooking-related fires. But fires due to unattended cooking remain one of the top causes of home fires. There are a lot of distractions and all it takes is a brief moment for a cooking fire to get out of control. Keep an all-purpose or Class ABC rated fire extinguisher nearby to get a kitchen fire under control. Consider placing a fire extinguisher in other locations around the house that family members can easily access and make sure they know how to use them properly.
2. Space heaters
Home heating equipment is second to cooking fires for causing home fires. More than half of home heating fires occur during December, January and February. Remember to keep at least three feet of clear space around it — away from curtains, furniture and other flammable objects in the room — and set it up on the floor unless it is designed for other use.
3. Children playing with fire
The number of fires and deaths caused by children playing with fire goes up significantly at this time of year. Never leave children unsupervised with ignition materials such as matches or lighters.
4. Burn only wood in the fireplace
Do not burn trash, cardboard boxes or Christmas trees in the fireplace. These items burn unevenly and may cause a dangerous flash fire.
5. Caution with candles
While Christmas Day is the peak day of the year for candle fires, accidents happen all the time. Make sure candles are in stable holders and place them where they cannot be easily knocked down. Never leave the house with candles burning.
6. Electrical outlets
Don’t overload your electrical outlets with too many appliances, electronics, etc.
7. Electrical cords
To reduce the chance of overheating, electric cords should never be bundled together or run under rugs or carpet.
8. Keep your chimney, furnace and water heater in top condition
Most chimney fires are caused by the buildup of creosote, a highly combustible by-product of burning wood. To protect your chimney from creosote buildup, have it inspected and cleaned annually. Maintain your furnace and hot water heater on a regular basis. This should also include replacing your furnace filter every 90 days.
9. Dirty fireplace
When cleaning your fireplace, put embers in a metal container and set them outside to cool for 24 hours before disposal.
10. Equip your home with smoke detectors
If they are well located and maintained, they can save your life. Clean them regularly and replace the batteries twice a year, typically in March and November when the clocks are reset.
11. Alarm system
Consider equipping your home with a fire alarm system connected to a remote monitoring center.
12. Buy a CO2 /carbon monoxide detector with a battery back-up
These alarms are affordable and can be found in most hardware stores. To prevent a CO2 leak, make sure that there is proper air circulation in your home, never use your BBQ inside and if your house has a connected garage, never run your car with the garage door closed.