St. Catharines Fire Services giving the gift of holiday safety

Posted on Tuesday November 26, 2019

Nov. 27, 2019 — A knock at the door this weekend won’t be holiday carollers, although the firefighters going from house to house will be spreading a festive message.

That festive message will be safety.

As an extension of past success through the Fire Services’ Residential Alarm Awareness Program, fire suppression crews will be going door to door in select neighbourhoods on Nov. 30, Dec. 7 and Dec. 14 between 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Crews will spread the message of holiday fire safety, including the importance of fire escape plans and working smoke alarms on all levels of the house and outside sleeping areas alongside carbon monoxide alarms.

“The holidays are the perfect time to come together with family and friends, it can be a busy time of year filled with guest visits, food and celebratory distractions,” said Acting Fire Chief Jeff McCormick, adding, “with extra people in the house, more food on the stove and the distraction of celebration, the holidays can be a dangerous time when it comes to house fires.”

Firefighters will offer home safety checks and test smoke and carbon monoxide alarms to ensure home owners are prepared should the worst happen.

The crews will also distribute handouts on holiday fire safety in the hopes of curbing house fires, often caused by careless smoking or cooking. The former remains the leading cause of fatal house fires over the holidays in Ontario. Often these fires involve alcohol.

“We always urge residents to drink alcohol responsibly,” said McCormick, adding, “smokers should always ensure to properly extinguish whatever they are smoking, be it cigarettes or cannabis.”

Smokers should always extinguish cigarettes or cannabis in large, deep ashtrays; never in plant pots that could ignite. Ashes should be emptied into a metal container, not a garbage can, and put outside.

Crews will also provide safety tips on cooking, another common cause of holiday fires according to McCormick. He was quick to note homeowners should never leave cooking unattended. If individuals must leave the kitchen they should turn off the stove, or take a pot lid or spatula with them to serve as a reminder food is on the stove.

Other holiday home safety tips include:

  • If a pot catches fire, don’t try to move it. Cover the pot with a lid to smother the flames and turn off the burner.
  • Keep things that can burn, such as cooking utensils and paper towels, away from the stove as they can easily ignite if they are too close.
  • Before going to bed make sure all cigarettes are properly extinguished and the stove is off.
  • Check sofas and chairs for cigarettes that may have fallen between the cushions.
  • Use flameless candles.
  • If you use traditional candles keep them in sturdy fire-proof holders and away from children, pets or anything that could catch fire.
  • Never leave candles unattended.
  • Keep candles and cigarettes away from Christmas trees and decorations.
  • Make sure real trees always have enough water so they don’t dry out.
  • Develop and practice a home escape plan with everyone in the home.

Those who don’t receive a home visit but would like to learn more can call 905.688.5601 ext. 4224

Copyright © 2014 The Corporation of the City of St. Catharines