The Holiday season is a time for celebrations. It’s also a very busy time for fire departments. Here is some valuable safety advice to prevent damage due to fire.

A momentary loss of focus is all it takes for a house fire to start. A frying pan left unattended, a defective extension cord or a falling candle can quickly turn into tragedy.

All the more reason to be extra-careful and pay attention to your choice of Holiday décor items, use electrical appliances and devices wisely, and respect elementary safety rules in the kitchen.

Danger-free cooking for a successful Holiday meal

The great chefs all know that cooking the perfect dish demands unwavering attention. The same is true when it comes to safety in the kitchen.

The simple fact of keeping a close eye on a piece of meat sizzling away in a pan, and on other types of food preparation, can help prevent all manner of accidents.

Statistics from the Quebec Ministry of Public Security show that in 2014, fully 24.7% of residential fires that resulted in damage were caused by mishaps with cooking appliances.1

The fundamental rule is to never leave such appliances unattended. If you are going to be watching over several saucepans at once, avoid wearing long-sleeved clothing, and keep paper towels and dishrags—which could catch fire in an instant—away from the stove.

It’s a good idea to use a timer as a reminder to turn off the oven or stove elements after the meal is cooked, especially if you’re busy attending to a large group of dinner guests.

If a fire does start in a pan, do not try to put it out with water or by turning on the range hood (in the latter case, the increased air flow could literally fan the flames). Simply put a cover on the pan to cut off the oxygen supply.

Choosing your Holiday décor items wisely to reduce fire risk

The Holidays just wouldn’t be the same without all those decorations brightening up our homes. But it’s important to remember to use electrical devices properly and lower the risk of fire by taking same basic precautions.

  • It’s better to choose an artificial tree that’s been fireproofed. If you insist on a natural tree, choose one that’s been freshly cut. Once you get it home, put it in a solid stand and make sure to water it often. Natural trees shouldn’t be kept indoors for more than two weeks: the more they dry out, the more flammable they become. It goes without saying that heating appliances and Christmas trees don’t go well together.
  • You should carefully inspect Christmas tree lights before stringing them up; the same goes for extension cords. Be sure to use products certified by a recognized standards organization (CSA or ULC) and replace any defective parts immediately. Before going to bed or leaving the house, turn off all decorative lights: they are not to be left unattended.
  • Be doubly careful if you decide to set a mood by lighting the room with candles. The same goes for lighting a fire in the fireplace. Keep decorations well away if you want to get cozy in front of a warm hearth, and consider using battery-powered faux candles, especially if there are children around. An accident can happen so quickly, especially with people in a festive Holiday mood!

To sum up: the risk of a house fire is greater during the Holidays, but there are a number of small preventive actions you can take that can save you a lot of worry!

1. Ministère de la Sécurité publique (in French only)