Risk of fire from Christmas decorations

Abbotsford Fire Rescue Services reminding residents to be safe

The wreath at the fire hall.

The holiday season is a time when there is an increased risk of home fires as Christmas trees, candle usage and holiday decorations can all contribute to seasonal blazes.

Abbotsford Fire Rescue Services (AFRS) are reminding residents that with added awareness and some minor adjustments to holiday cooking and decorating, the season can remain festive and safe for everybody.

The Holiday Wreath will be up at Fire Hall No. 1 (32270 George Ferguson Way) with 31 green lights representing the 31 days in December. The goal is to “Keep the Wreath Green” for the entire month. If a green light is replaced with a red light it will be due to a preventable residential fire occurring.

Residents are reminded to stay in the kitchen while frying, grilling or broiling food. Most cooking fires involve the stovetop, so keep anything that can catch fire away from it, and turn off the stove when you leave the kitchen, even if it’s for a short period of time.

December is the peak month for home candle fires. Flameless candles are an alternate to open flames inside the house. Traditional candles should be kept at least 12 inches away from anything flammable, and blown out when you leave the room or go to bed.

Each year, fire departments respond to fires caused by Christmas trees. One of every three is caused by electrical problems, and one in five result from a heat source too close to the tree.

• If you have an artificial tree, be sure it’s labeled, certified or identified by the manufacturer as fire-retardant.

• If you choose a fresh tree, make sure the green needles don’t fall off when touched; and before placing it in the stand, cut 1-2” from the base of the trunk. Add water to the tree stand, and be sure to water it daily.

• Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit, and is at least three feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces, space heaters, radiators, candles and heat vents or lights.

• Use lights that have the label of an independent testing laboratory, and make sure you know whether they are designed for indoor or outdoor use.

• Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords, or loose bulb connections. Connect no more than three strands of mini-string sets and a maximum of 50 bulbs for screw-in bulbs.

• Never use lit candles to decorate the tree.

• Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving the home or going to bed.

• After Christmas, get rid of the tree. Dried-out trees are a fire hazard and should not be left in the home or garage, or placed outside the home.

• Bring outdoor electrical lights inside after the holidays to prevent hazards and make them last longer.

By following these fire prevention tips and measures, residents can greatly reduce the risk of fires in households and enjoy a safe holiday season.

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