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A Season for Sharing in Fire Safety
The Government has an ongoing Christmas fire safety campaign which carries a stark warning that people are 50 per cent more likely to die in a house fire over the festive period than at other times of the year. There are however simple life-saving steps you can take to ensure a safe and happy holiday. By following some of the outlined precautionary tips, individuals can greatly reduce their chances of becoming a holiday fire casualty.
Preventing Christmas Tree Fire
Selecting a Tree for the Holiday
Needles on fresh trees should be green and hard to pull back from the branches, and the needle should not break if the tree has been freshly cut. The trunk should be sticky to the touch. Old trees can be identified by bouncing the tree trunk on the ground. If many needles fall off, the tree has been cut too long, has probably dried out, and is a fire hazard.
Caring for Your Tree
Do not place your tree close to a heat source, including a fireplace or heat vent. The heat will dry out the tree, causing it to be more easily ignited by heat, flame or sparks. Be careful not to drop or flick cigarette ashes near a tree. Do not put your live tree up too early or leave it up for longer than two weeks. Keep the tree stand filled with water at all times.
Disposing of Your Tree
Never put tree branches or needles in a fireplace or wood-burning stove. When the tree becomes dry, discard it promptly. The best way to dispose of your tree is by taking it to a recycling centre.
Maintain Your Tree Lights
Inspect lights each year for frayed wires, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets, and excessive kinking or wear before putting them up. Use only approved lighting.
Do Not Overload Electrical Outlets
Do not link more than three light strands, unless the directions indicate it is safe. Make sure to periodically check the wires - they should not be warm to the touch.
Do Not Leave Christmas Lights on Unattended
Use Only Non-flammable Decorations
All decorations should be non-flammable or flame-retardant and placed away from heat vents.
Never Put Wrapping Paper in a Fireplace
It can result in a very large fire, throwing off dangerous sparks and embers and may result in a chimney fire.
Artificial Christmas Trees
If you are using a metallic or artificial tree, make sure it is flame retardant.
Avoid Using Lit Candles
If you do use them, make sure they are in stable holders and place them where they cannot be easily knocked down. Never leave the house with candles burning.
Never Put Lit Candles on a Tree
Do not go near a Christmas tree with an open flame - candles, lighters or matches.
Finally, as in every season, have working smoke alarms installed on every level of your home, test them monthly and keep them clean and equipped with fresh batteries at all times. Know when and how to call for help. And remember to have a fire escape plan - however stupid this seems - it could save your life and those of your family members
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