4 Ways To Prevent Holiday Fire Hazards

Christmas tree fires are one of the most common holiday worries among homeowners, but the winter months present other dangers, as well. While decking the halls, follow these 4 tips to prevent holiday fire hazards from claiming your home.

1. Use CSA-Certified Lights

The Canadian Standards Association certifies string lights for safety. When shopping for light strings, look for the CSA certification mark on the packaging to ensure you do not bring fire hazards into your home.

Certified string lights comply with all Canadian and North American standards for operational safety. However, any set of string lights can cause fires when used improperly, so make sure your lights are installed correctly by:

  • Plugging only two or three light strings together 
  • Replacing bulbs with the correct sizes
  • Discarding lights with frayed cords

Additionally, never leave string lights burning after you go to sleep at night. Unplug them from the outlet source, if possible, or use a timer to turn them on and off at pre-determined times.

2. Hire an Electrician for Extravagant Displays

Decorating your home for the holidays might be a Christmas tradition, but this practice can turn into a holiday nightmare if you overload your home's electrical system. Hiring an electrician to evaluate your house is the safest move.

This is particularly important if you install electric decorations other than regular string lights, such as:

  • Air-blown decorations: Forced air blows up the decoration and might cause it to move.
  • Animated yard decorations: Large characters or figures that move in place or on a track.
  • Pre-lit decorations: Items that contain or feature pre-installed lights.

If you provide your electrician with a list of the decorations you plan to install, he or she can help you determine if you need to upgrade your electrical system or take any other precautions to prevent holiday house fires.

3. Don't Overload the Kitchen

In Canada, kitchen fires are the most common cause of residential blazes. Since many homeowners cook more during the holidays, it is important to keep your appliances and power outlets up to code.

While an unattended gas burner can cause a kitchen fire, it is also important to avoid overloading your kitchen's electrical system. For example, do not plug in more appliances than your outlets can handle.

An electrician can evaluate your home to determine whether you have sufficient circuits to handle the load in your kitchen. A few red flags to watch out for prior to the holidays include:

  • Tripping circuits when using multiple kitchen appliances
  • Flickering or dimming lights when you plug something into an outlet
  • Crackling noises from the outlets

You could be at greater risk if you have just purchased an older home. Since you are used to spending holidays in a different house, you might not realize your typical cooking and hosting activities are not appropriate for the older electrical system.

4. Keep an Eye on Candles

Unattended candles are among the most common reasons for house fires in Canada, so it is important to watch candles carefully when using them for decoration or as a light source. Get in the habit of extinguishing candles before you leave a room.

Modern technology offers numerous alternatives to candles, including the LED-powered variety. These fake candles resemble the real thing, but they lack the heat and flame associated with traditional candles.

To protect your family from candle fires:

  • Keep candles out of reach of children and pets, especially during play time
  • Place candles away from curtains, blankets, pillows, and other flammable household objects
  • Walk through your house before you go to bed to make sure no candles are burning

The holidays are intended to bring families together, but a house fire definitely ruins the mood. If you are worried about your home's electrical system, hire an electrician before you decorate or host guests to ensure your home can handle the load.

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