Holiday season safety tips from Ontario’s fire marshal


With the holiday season and winter weather upon us, the Office of the Fire Marshal (OFM) is reminding everyone about the importance of fire safety as Ontarians get together with friends and family to celebrate.

“Cooking and smoking are leading causes of home fires in Ontario,” said Ontario Fire Marshal Jon Pegg. “Stay alert and keep your family safe this holiday season. Never leave a pot cooking on the stove unattended, always butt out cigarettes and consider using battery-operated flameless candles. If you’re using candles with flames, make sure they are kept away from decorations and anything that can burn.”

OFM’s holiday safety tips:

  • Water fresh-cut Christmas trees daily. Always keep the base of the trunk in water and away from heat sources such as fireplaces, heaters or candles.
  • Check all lights before decorating and replace any worn or damaged cords or loose bulb connections. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for indoor or outdoor use.
  • Make sure there is a working smoke alarm on every storey of your home and outside all sleeping areas.
  • Only carbon monoxide alarms can alert you to the presence of this deadly gas. Install carbon monoxide alarms outside all sleeping areas.
  • Having a home fire escape plan is one of the best ways to ensure you and your loved ones can get out safely. Everyone in your home should know two ways out of all areas.
  • Use extension cords wisely and only as a temporary connection. Never run cords under rugs which can damage the cord and cause a fire. Avoid overloading a circuit with “octopus outlets” (lots of extension cords in one electrical outlet).
  • Portable space heaters and other heating sources are sometimes used to keep the chill out. Keep anything that can burn such as holiday decorations, curtains and upholstery, at least one metre away from heat sources.
  • Keep open flames away from anything that may be combustible. If you can, use an enclosed candle holder or sturdy, burn-resistant container that won’t tip.
  • Matches and lighters can be deadly in the hands of children. Keep all fire-starting materials out of the sight and reach of children.
  • Never leave a stove unattended. If you need to step away for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
  • Encourage smokers to smoke outside and use large, deep ashtrays that cannot be knocked over easily. Always keep ashes away from anything that can burn. Empty cooled ashes into a metal container and store outside.
  • While celebrating this festive time of year, be sure to keep a watchful eye on anyone cooking or smoking while under the influence.

According to the Ontario Fire Marshal’s Office, one in three fire deaths in the province occur during the months of November, December, and January.


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