VICTORIA, B.C. – As the holiday season gets underway and British Columbians decorate their homes, the provincial government says to be wary about the risk of fires caused by some of those decorations.
Each year, preventable fires during the holiday season injure British Columbians and cause thousands of dollars in property damage. Because many fires are preventable, the Office of the Fire Commissioner and Emergency Management BC has published some basic fire safety tips.
When it comes to the use of candles, Emergency Management BC says that battery-operated candles are an excellent alternative. If real candles must be used, they say to use non-combustible containers for tea lights and votive candles, and to ensure that all candles are extinguished if they will be left unattended.
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Other fire prevention tips around the home include:
- Keeping combustibles, such as trees, wrapping paper and decorations, away from heat sources.
- Ensuring your real tree stays fresh by watering it often. Consider a fire-resistant artificial tree as an alternative.
- Only using lights which have been tested and labelled by a certified testing laboratory.
- Always turning off incandescent decorative lights for real trees before leaving home or going to sleep. Certified timers can be used to preset ‘on’ and ‘off’ times.
- Ensuring electrical outlets are not overloaded with various devices.
- When using gas fireplaces with young children present, consider providing a barrier to prevent physical contact as the glass front can reach over 300 degrees Celsius and takes 45 minutes to cool off.
- Being sure that cooking is never left unattended.
- Ensuring that working smoke alarms are provided on every level of your home and outside each sleeping area.
- Testing and cleaning smoke alarms regularly and change batteries at least twice a year.
- Developing a fire escape plan, practicing it regularly and having at least two ways out of your home.