January 23rd, 2018

Fire fatalities spike at this time of year

By Gillian Slade on December 28, 2017.

Two of the most common triggers for fires at this time of year are real Christmas trees and candles.--NEWS PHOTO GILLIAN SLADE


gslade@medicinehatnews.com 
@MHNGillianSlade

Fire-related deaths double in Alberta during the holiday season, says the provincial government.

Two of the most common triggers for fires are real Christmas trees and candles, said Brian Webster, deputy fire chief Medicine Hat Fire Service.

You have no way of knowing, in most cases, when your fresh Christmas tree was cut. It may have dried out before you even got it home, said Webster. While LED Christmas lights do not produce as much heat as the incandescent ones the heat can increase if lights are left on 24/7. The risk of a fire increases if they are on a real/fresh tree.

Candles help to create a warm, cozy and festive atmosphere but they are an open flame. Webster says the rule of thumb is you do not leave the room where candles are lit until you have extinguished them.

Environment Canada’s extreme cold warning has most of us looking for ways to warm up our vehicles before venturing out. To avoid carbon monoxide poisoning only leave the vehicle running if it outside, said Webster. Do not leave the engine running in your garage.

The Alberta government provided the following tips on being fire smart at this time of year:

Water natural Christmas trees daily and keep them away from fireplaces, heaters and candles.

Check all lights for loose bulbs and worn or broken cords and replace damaged sets of lights.

Candles should be in a glass holder.

Turn off indoor and outdoor decorations before leaving the house or going to bed.

Do not overload electrical outlets and never put cords under rugs.

Keep space heaters at least one metre from curtains, furniture and decorations.

Every family should have a fire escape plan and practise it.

Homes should have working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms that are tested monthly. Batteries should be replaced annually. Portable fire extinguishers should be placed in the kitchen, garage and by the furnace as an extra safety measure.

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