Safety tips for a fire-free Christmas

By Jill Sperling
December 13, 2017 - 4:40pm Updated: December 13, 2017 - 5:27pm

KAMLOOPS — Festive lighting, decorations, holiday baking, and Christmas trees are all staples of the season, but they are also reasons for an uptick in fire calls during the winter months. 

Kamloops Fire Rescue is once again urging residents to follow some simple safety tips to ensure a fire-free Christmas. 

A natural tree, while aromatic and traditional, becomes a hazard when improperly cared for. 

"The trees can dry out quite quickly, and then they become very flammable, they're very volatile then," said KFR's Life Safety Educator Lyle Weninger. "Any spark can actually light the tree on fire, and it can have your living room on fire in under a minute. So, it's very important to keep that watered, and it makes a difference." 

It's important that the tree is healthy to begin with. 

"What you want to look for is a nice green tree," Weninger said. "You can take your hand, run it over the branches, make sure the needles don't come off."

Trees and presents should be kept a safe distance from heat sources, and strings of lights should be checked for damage and fraying. 

Christmas lights should only be strung according to manufacturer's specifications. 

"The outdoor lights can be hotter, so they're meant to be outside where it's a cooler area," Weninger said. "Indoor lights aren't always sealed properly, so the weather and the elements can get into the indoor lights and cause problems that way."

KFR is also asking people to be extra careful when cooking for the holidays, or lighting a festive candle. 

"During the holiday season is the most common time for fires to happen from candles. You want to keep your candles on a sturdy base that's non-combustible, we always know that relative that keeps a candle with the fresh pine (twigs) around it, and on a nice table top, but that stuff is all flammable."

And, as with any time of year, the number one fire-safety tip is to ensure your home has a working smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector.

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