How to Safely Decorate this Christmas

STORY BY ANNISA BRYAN, TERIANN CADOGEN, NICOLE KOLODZIEJ, SAMANTHA KNOX

Over the holidays, families begin decorating for the Christmas Season – often without a second thought for safety. The amount of lights that are put up can be a potential fire hazard. Before decorating your house this year, take a few minutes to learn about fire safety to protect your home and family.

Deputy Fire Chief of Oakville, Monique Belair says โ€œIt is very important that everyone takes the necessary precautions in order to stay safe. We as Fire Deputy Chiefs and the rest of the fire department are trying our hardest to stress that safety is the most important part of everything we do.”

When looking at which tree to buy, there are a few important factors to take into consideration. Artificial trees can become a potential fire hazard over years of dust collection. Artificial trees that come with built in pre-lit strings of lights are highly flammable due to being worn out over the years. The wires in the lights become less stable and start to break down when being put up and taken down year after year. 

If you are buying an artificial tree, make sure to look for any fire-resistant labels. Electric lights produce a lot of radiant heat and need to be turned off when unattended. Metallic trees attract heat, which creates an unsafe environment with an easier access to a fire-hazard. 

A fresh cut tree is a much safer and more eco-friendly option for your Christmas Tree. Fresh cut trees are less of a fire hazard because of the high moisture content they contain. Moisture creates a barrier between a flame, giving it less power to ignite. 

When putting away your Christmas tree for the season, store it in a fire-resistant box and keep it away from any flammable environments such as fireplaces, radiators, lightbulbs and other sources of heat. Fresh cut trees can be disposed of at your local designated garbage disposal. 

When decorating outside, make sure decorations are for outdoor use only. Also remember to fasten lights securely to your homes or trees. If using sharp objects such as hooks or nails, make sure they are insulated to avoid any electrocution or fires. Always remember to turn off all lights before going to bed.

The holiday season usually comes with cold weather. Many people begin to use their fireplaces around this time. Since fireplaces consist of creating a fire to induce heat, they can be a potential fire hazard as well. Make sure the fire is never left unattended or left to smolder. Placing a screen in front of the fireplace can protect the air from flying sparks. Throwing paper and cardboard in the fireplace to burn can be hazardous due to the high speed at which they burn. Christmas stockings can also catch fire when hung while the fireplace is in use. 

Indoor fires should not be created with gasoline or any other flammable liquids. Instead, try using seasoned or dried wood for a safer alternative. Also remember to not light the fireplace if you are going to place presents or stockings above, this can cause a fire-hazard rapidly. 

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“Knowing the high-risks that come along with the Christmas holidays, we are asking everyone to please take safety very seriously and one can do that by following safety tips to ensure you and your loved ones are protected for the holiday seasons.โ€ says Monique.

So you took all the necessary precautions to avoid a fire but it didn’t work. What do you do next? Follow your family and home safety plan. Any small fires can be put out with water or salt depending on the type of fire created. 

If you experience a solid fire (wood, paper, plastic, clothes), it can be put out with water, fire extinguisher, or wet towel. 

A flammable liquid fire (grease, propane, oil, alcohol, paint, gasoline) can be put out with baking soda or salt, and carbon dioxide, foam, or powder extinguishers. 

Electric fires (faulty wiring, frayed electrical cords) can be put out by disconnecting the power source, or using a carbon dioxide or dry powder fire extinguisher. 

Alkali metal fires (potassium, magnesium, aluminum, sodium) can be put out with dry powder extinguishers. 
If a fire suddenly begins and there is no fire extinguisher nearby, you must remember to get out of the premises, stay out and call 9-1-1. Doing these exact steps in order will safely and surely get you and others out safely.

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