I come from a family where everyone works in fire safety. I realize that not everyone at family gatherings tests each other’s fire alarms as soon as they arrive, often before they remove their coat. I realize that’s not conventional.
But, I also know that a lot of people will be expecting their biggest-ever holiday crowds this holiday season. I’ve talked to a number of people that are getting together with the family for the first time since COVID. That means family members are getting on planes, making the long drive, and spending the night for the first time in 3 years.
It’s also important to remember that more people in a home means more risk. This is why we’ve seen the number of fires skyrocket during/post-COVID, with a record number of people working from home. There have been 102 fire-related deaths in Ontario so far in 2022, including two more that happened over Thanksgiving weekend. We are getting dangerously close to 2021’s all-time high number of 124 deaths, with the winter peak home fire season on the horizon.
It’s a lot to deal with. So we’re going to make this very easy on you. We’re going to simplify fire safety so you have one less thing to worry about over the holidays.
Even though you don’t come from a fire safety family, there’s no reason you can’t keep your family safe.
I put this item first on the list, because I truly think we don’t talk enough about the risks associated with space heaters. Meanwhile, The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that approximately 1,200 fires a year are caused by portable electric space heaters.
Why are they so dangerous? Because nearly everyone has them, and very few people use them properly.
When adding a space heater to a room, always remember to:
- Never plug it into a low-grade (think Dollar Store) extension cord or power adapter
- Buy a heater with the seal of a qualified testing laboratory
- Keep it at least 3 feet (1 meter) away from anything that can burn, including people
- Choose a heater with a thermostat and overheat protection
- Turn it off when you go to bed or leave the home
We often decide the guest room is going to be the guest room because it’s the draftiest, or cooler because it shares a wall with the garage. So, if you’re using a space heater to make your guests more comfortable, follow the steps above to keep them safe.
Close Your Condo Doors
If you’re entertaining in your condo this year, you might be tempted to prop your door open to air out the smell of cooking, or let some cool air in, or just make it easy for party guests to come and go.
This is a bigger deal than most condo/apartment residents realize. Meanwhile, we’ve recently seen a rash of apartment fires in London, Ontario and officials have pointed to open doors as a major contributing factor.
Simply put, your door is your first line of defense against a spreading fire. So keep your condo doors closed and secure!
Roughly 3 out of 5 fire deaths happen in homes with no smoke alarms, or no working smoke alarms.
Have you checked yours lately? You should definitely add that to your to-do list before your company arrives this year. Also, ensure you have one installed inside every sleeping room, outside each separate sleeping area, and on every level.
You can also casually work it into conversation with your hosts this year. You can talk about how you just replaced/upgraded your fire alarms. Or how you got a great deal on batteries on Amazon.
The quality and energy efficiency of lights has come a long way since I was young. However, that doesn’t mean we should overload sockets and power adapters with too many lights, particularly if the adapter is supporting other appliances.
Here is a scary reminder of how quickly things can get out of control:
Once again, don’t overload your sockets or adapters, indoors or out. And always unplug your lights before you go to bed.
Did you know that over a third of all candle sales take place over the holidays?
They make great gifts. They’re often used for religious and festive purposes over the holidays.
But we still need to remember to use them safely. This includes:
- Keep lit candles at least a foot away from anything flammable. 3 out of every 5 candle fires start when things are too close to the candle.
- Use only sturdy candle holders that won’t tip over, on an equally sturdy surface or table.
- Be very careful lighting the candle, and stay mindful of long hair.
- Never let the candle burn all the way down to the holder.
- Keep candles, matches, and lighters out of the reach of children.
And as always, blow them out before you go to bed or you leave your home.
A little bit of planning and care can go a long way to ensuring everyone is safe and healthy this holiday season.
Happy holidays from my family to yours!