It's the time of year when many Canadians are decking the halls and putting up outdoor Christmas lights.
Still, while your home may look festive over the holidays, it could also become a fire or safety hazard if you're not careful.
“Unfortunately, this is a time of year when there are a lot of preventable residential fires,” says Glenn Barwell, Fire Prevention Officer with the Oakville Fire Department.
Officials are urging residents to take proper precautions and safety measures when getting into the Christmas spirit; both in terms of putting up the lights and ensuring that they don't become a hazard over time.
“The most important thing that people can do to keep themselves safe from fire at Christmas is to check their smoke alarms and review their fire escape plan,” explains Barwell. “I know that's basic and people hear it over and over again, but that's what we really want to urge. Take a few minutes and make sure they are working. Replace batteries as necessary.”
If you're going to be putting up outdoor Christmas lights this month, Barwell says to keep the weather forecast in mind. “If you can, wait for a break in the weather. You don't want to be putting up your lights when it's extremely cold, windy or icy out.”
Barwell says dry, mild weather conditions are the most ideal when it comes to decorating your home. He recommends putting up Christmas lights earlier in the Fall season. “You've got enough going on in December with everything else around the holidays, so next year I would get a jump on this in November.”
If you are going to be using a ladder to put Christmas lights on your home, Barwell has some safety advice.
“Ladders can conduct electricity, so keep them away from power lines,” he says. “A ladder should only be placed on stable surfaces. For every four feet up the ladder is, the ladder base should be one foot out from the wall.”
Barwell says you need to be especially careful when decorating near the rooftops.
“Don't over-extend your ladder. It has its limits. Follow the manufacturers instructions and make sure the ladder is secure,” he says. “If you are getting off the ladder and onto the roof, the ladder needs to extend a minimum of three feet above that roof.”
Here are some other tips and pieces of advice Barwell has for Canadians looking to decorate their home during the holidays:
The Oakville Fire Department is urging Canadians to survive the holidays and have a fire-safe Christmas.
“Don't invite disaster to your holiday events,” Barwell says. “Remember, check your smoke alarms and have a fire escape plan.”