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Fire crews issue reminder to ensure your holiday plans don't go up in smoke

Last Updated Nov 28, 2018 at 10:17 am PDT

(Courtesy Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services)
Summary

Fire crews are reminding you to be safe this holiday season: water your tree, use certified cables, be aware of hazards

Vancouver fire says it's not uncommon to see an uptick in fire-related incidents around the holiday season

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – ‘Tis the season when people are using more electricity, likely to power up their favourite holiday decorations and to keep warm.

As more of us begin stringing those lights and putting up the Christmas tree, fire crews are urging you to use caution to make sure you have a safe holiday season.

“Around electrical safety, firstly make sure that you’re using only extension cords that are rated for their use, so indoor or outdoor-specific cords that are certified by ULC and that are large enough to hand the current load that you’re putting on them,” Vancouver Fire Captain Jonathan Gormick explains.

He recommends looking over the cords your currently have to make sure they’re up to snuff, and says to replace any that seem old or damaged.

Also, never route cords under carpets or furniture, no matter how much of an eye sore they may be.

“When you’re decorating and you want your living room or wherever your decorations are set up to look nice, it might seem convenient to tuck the extension cord away, what’s the worst that could happen? But there is a lot of bad things that can happen and it doesn’t take much for that insulation to get damaged and the possibility of that to short out.”

When it comes to space heaters, never leave them unattended, and Gormick says to keep them away from anything flammable, like curtains or other types of fabric.

“If people are still using live Christmas trees… they need to be watered daily and the water supply at their base needs to be kept full,” he tells NEWS 1130. “Those trees can dry out quickly and become extremely flammable when they’re dry.”

Of course, it’s also the time of year when many are probably cooking a lot of food for a lot of people.

He says to never leave cooking unattended, and make sure your home is equipped with working smoke alarms and fire extinguishers.

Increase in call volume

People tend to spend more time at home over the holiday season. When you factor that into the increased hazards associated with an uptick in electrical use, cooking, and other elements, Gormick says it’s not unusual to see an increase in call volume — especially in residential areas.

“Most of the calls we go to during the holiday season involve the things we mentioned,” he says.

However, crews aren’t just responding to reports of fires.

“It can also be a stressful time of year so we attend medical calls because family’s over, people are undergoing stress, people are over consuming, and of course then they get distracted when they’re cooking and we do see an uptick in kitchen fires this time of year.”

Gormick says it’s rare to see issues with outdoor lights, but adds people still need to be vigilant.

“It doesn’t take much to be safe.”

If you need more information about home safety, or if you’re concerned about your smoke alarms, you can reach out to your local fire department.

-With files from Sonia Aslam