Holiday Fire Safety in Hamilton

Hamilton Firefighters are guiding people on how to stay safe this winter

By Clare Bonnyman, CBC News Posted: Dec 20, 2016 5:45 AM ET

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A demonstration at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts shows just how quickly a lit Christmas tree can burn, warning people to be cautious this season. (Worcester Polytechnic Institute/YouTube )

Hamilton firefighters are reminding the city to stay safe while keeping warm.

The regular winter reminder comes with a sense of urgency this year, as in the last week 10 people have died in three separate house fires across Ontario.

Recent tragedies have left Fire Departments across the province asking people to be alert and aware, as temperatures drop and people try to stay warm.

Completely clear snow

Don’t limit yourself to sidewalks and driveways when shoveling. Make sure that everything that needs to be clear gets plowed. This includes:

  • Hydrants
  • Exit doors
  • Vents from furnaces or hot water heaters
  • Natural gas meters

The Ontario Fire Code requires that all exterior passageways, stairways and fire escapes be maintained free of all snow and ice, to ensure everything can get in and out of the house as it should.

Warm up the engine outside

While it takes longer to get ready in the morning, Hamilton first responders are also reminding citizens not to warm up a car or snow blower inside the garage. If the engine needs warming, do it outside to minimize the risk of carbon monoxide buildup.

In some cases your car’s may not even need to be warmed up, and it may do more harm than good.

Decorating the right way

When decorating for celebrations, make sure to not leave lights or candles unattended. Make sure that all lights going on the tree are in good shape, and are not fraying or broken.

To demonstrate how quickly a Christmas tree can light up, students from the Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts simulated a living room with a Christmas tree in the video below. Within 25 seconds, the entire tree was aflame.

The Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs recommends a number of steps to keep your tree safe this year, including watering it daily, checking all lights before decorating, and giving heaters space away from the tree and holiday decorations.

Stay safe while celebrating

Ensure working smoke alarms are installed on every floor level of your home. It is also now the law in Ontario to install carbon monoxide alarms in your home if you have a fuel burning appliance or an attached garage.

In case of a power outage, be careful of using candles. If possible use a flashlight or alternative source. But no matter what, do not leave candles unattended. Fire Prevention Canada reports that the misuse of candles “is one of the major causes of home fires, especially during the winter and Christmas.”

For more information on safety, visit Fire Prevention Canada or the Hamilton Fire Department website.

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