Although the holidays are still a few weeks away, the colder weather means that we are using fireplaces, floor or space heaters, and candles throughout our homes. In 2014, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 367,500 home structure fires causing 11,825 injuries and $6.8 billion in direct damage.
Fire safety is so important no matter where you live, and, in honour of National Home Fire Safety Week (November 24 – 30) we’ve put together a few tips to keep fire safety top of mind throughout the month and into the holiday season.
Fire Safety Tip 1: Be Careful with Open Flames
- Don’t leave open flames, such as candles, unattended for any length of time
- If you have a wood burning fireplace, use a screen to prevent embers or sparks from escaping
- Put candles on stable, solid surfaces so that they don’t fall over, and keep them away from flammable items like curtains or furniture
Fire Safety Tip 2: Mind Your Cooking
- Whether you use natural gas or a conventional stove, never leave your cooking unattended
- Keep flammable items, such as dishtowels or paper towels, away from the stove top
- If you are using the oven, make sure you set a timer to remind you that it’s on, and never leave the oven on when you are not at home
Fire Safety Tip 3: Use Electrical Items Responsibly
- If you use portable heaters, keep them at least three feet from any flammable item, such as bed sheets or curtains
- Ensure that power cords are in good shape (no fraying or tears), never run them under carpet or flooring (they get hot), and don’t use faulty or questionable equipment (if unsure, have a certified electrician look them over)
- Don’t leave electrical heating items on while you are out of the house
Fire Safety Tip 4: Ensure your Holiday Tree is Safe
- If you are buying a real tree, choose one with fresh green needles that do not fall off when touched (if they do, this is a sign the tree is too dry and a fire hazard)
- If you are buying an artificial tree, make sure yours is marked as ‘fire-resistant’ and bears the Canadian Standards Association or Underwriters Labs (United States) label
- Keep either kind of tree away from heat sources, and never leave lights on when you are out of the house
Fire Safety Tip 5: Take Care of Your Smoke Detectors
- Install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each separate sleeping area, and on each level of your home
- Check the expiry date of your smoke alarms (remove from the ceiling/wall and check back or side of alarm) and replace them every 10 years
- Test your smoke alarms once per month by pushing the test button and replace batteries at least once per year
In addition to these five steps, ensure that your home has properly maintained fire extinguishers and that every family member knows how to operate them. For more ways to protect your home, read our blog post about Fire Prevention Tools.
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