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December 12, 2013
For immediate release

Tips for a safe Christmas and winter season

Environment, Labour and Justice

With the winter season upon us and many Islanders decorating and celebrating over the Christmas holidays, the Office of Public Safety has advice to help keep families safe, says Environment, Labour and Justice Minister Janice Sherry.

“Christmas is a special time of year for many and it is fun to deck the halls, but there are safety risks associated with some celebration traditions. A major winter storm can last for several days and lead to power outages, poor driving conditions and other hazards,” says Ms. Sherry. “Due to cold temperatures and the use of alternate heating sources, there are more home fires in winter than in any other season.

“By taking precautions, Islanders can protect their families and their property.”

The Office of Public Safety offers some recommendations:

Winter weather safety

• Freezing rain is more slippery than snow and it clings to everything it touches. Use extreme caution if you have to go out. Watch for breaking tree limbs and utility poles, and never touch downed power lines.

• Shovel out your 911 sign. Emergency responders can’t help you if they can’t find you.

• Bring pets/companion animals inside during winter weather. Move other animals or livestock to sheltered areas with non-frozen drinking water.

• In an emergency, you will need some basic supplies. You may need to get by without power or tap water for several days. Put together an emergency kit. Everyone should be prepared to be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours.

Winter fire prevention

• Maintain a three-foot clearance around heating equipment such as the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater and always turn heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.

• Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.

• Always keep burning candles within sight and extinguish fully before leaving a room or going to bed.

• Make sure you have a working smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector installed on each level of your home. Test smoke alarms weekly and replace batteries twice a year.

Christmas and holiday safety

• The best protection for a natural tree is moisture. Place tree in a stand that will hold two to three litres of water and top it up daily.

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

• Use only non-combustible or flame-resistant materials to trim a tree.

• Ensure extension cords and decorative lights are in good working order and CSA certified.

• Turn off all decorative lights when leaving your home and retiring for the night.

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

• If you choose an artificial tree, look for the “fire resistant” label, indicating that the tree will resist burning and should extinguish quickly.

• Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and a person touching a branch could be electrocuted.

• Never burn wrapping paper in a fireplace or wood stove.

The Office of Public Safety has produced a booklet entitled Your Emergency Preparedness Guide to help Islanders create an emergency plan and 72 hour emergency kit. The booklet can be downloaded in English or French at or by calling toll free 1-877-894-0385. For more tips and information follow the Office of Public Safety on Facebook and Twitter @peipublicsafety.

Media Contact: Connie McNeill
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