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December 9, 2009
For immediate release

Tips for a Fire Safe Holiday Season

Communities, Cultural Affairs and Labour

The Office of Public Safety wants to remind Islanders that Christmas trees are only one of the many potential fire hazards that may be lurking in homes during the holiday season.

“Cooking, using candles and operating additional electrical items may place homes at increased risk for fire, especially during the holiday season when people are sometimes rushed, distracted or tired,” says Provincial Fire Marshal David Blacquiere.

During the holidays and winter months, people may use space heaters to provide extra warmth. The Fire Marshal says if space heaters are used or installed incorrectly, they can result in shock, fire and burn. He urges Islanders to use extreme caution when operating space heaters, and to carefully follow the manufacturers’ instructions.

The Provincial Fire Marshal offers the following Christmas safety tips.

Live Tree Safety Tips:

• Pick a fresh tree with a strong green colour and noticeable fragrance.

• Store tree in cool, sheltered place until ready to set up.

• The best protection for a tree is moisture. Because of its high moisture content, a fresh tree is naturally fire retardant and can remain so with a continuous supply of water for 10-14 days.

• Place tree in a stand that will hold 2 to 3 litres of water and top it up daily. Remember, if water drops below the end of the trunk, the stem may reseal itself, and need a fresh cut.

• Keep tree away from all sources of heat including radiators, furnace ducts, television sets, fireplaces and windows with direct exposure to the sun.

• Ensure all electric lights and connections are in good working order.

• Never use lighted candles on or near a Christmas tree.

• Use flame-resistant decorations.

• After 10-14 days in a heated building, even the freshest tree will begin to dry out and should be discarded.

Artificial Tree Safety Tips:

• Artificial trees should be CSA approved. Plastic trees should be made of fire-resistant material and kept away from heat sources.

• Never use electric lights on metallic trees; spotlights can illuminate the tree from a safe distance.

Decorating Safety Tips:

• Use CSA approved Christmas tree and decorative lights. Check for frayed wires or broken sockets and throw out damaged sets.

• Don’t use outdoor lights on an indoor Christmas tree.

• Use miniature lights; they produce less heat.

• Make sure lights do not touch combustible materials.

• Don’t overload outlets. Never use more than three strings of lights on one circuit.

• Never leave Christmas lights on when going to bed or leaving the house.

Year-Round Safety Tips:

• Install smoke alarms on every level of the home.

• Make sure your smoke alarms work.

• Review your “home fire escape plan” with everyone.

The Fire Marshal’s Office is a section of the provincial Office of Public Safety. For more information, contact the Office of the Fire Marshal at 368-4869 or click on Follow us on Twitter:

Media Contact: Connie McNeill
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