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Deck the halls with fire safety

By HUB SmartCoverage Team on December 4th, 2023

The holidays are a special time, but they don’t come without risks.

Keep your loved ones safe by knowing how to manage the health or safety hazards of items you bring into your home. Did you know that according to the National Fire Protection Association more than one third of home decoration fires are started by candles and that two out of five decoration fires happened because decorations are placed too close to a heat source? And, according to the Government of Ontario, cooking is the leading cause of fires during the holidays. (Never leave cooking unattended!)

Christmas trees

Whether you put your tree up early or are more of a traditionalist and wait until closer to Christmas, the Canadian Red Cross and other experts suggest the fire danger associated with real and artificial trees can be mitigated through these safety tips:

  • Check for freshness by tapping it on the ground. The spines shouldn’t detach easily. Dropping needles indicate a dry, highly flammable tree.
  • After cutting the base, place it in a container filled with water and make sure the trunk is supported.
  • Check that the tree is not running out of water, so it does not dry out.
  • Place it away from high traffic areas and doorways.
  • Keep it away from heating vents, radiators, stoves, fireplaces and burning candles.
  • Dispose of the tree as soon as the holidays are over, or as soon as the needles start to fall. Dispose of it according to local regulations - most municipalities have tree recycling programs.
  • If your tree is artificial, make sure it bears the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) symbol. A fire resistant tree means it will resist burning and should extinguish quickly.

Light up the night

Christmas lights are a great way to set the holiday mood. Use these tips from the Government of Canada to do so safely, inside or out.

Important! Do not use electric light strings or sets on metallic trees. A faulty system could energize the tree and shock or electrocute anyone coming into contact with it.


  • Use lights that have the mark of an accredited certification agency such as CSA, cUL or cETL. Check the Healthy Canadians Recalls and Safety Alerts Database before buying or using lights to find out about the latest recalls.
  • Choose the right one for the job: light strings and other decorations are rated for indoor or outdoor use. Only use indoor lights and decorations inside. Read the package instructions and do not exceed the recommended wattage.
  • Use clips, not nails, to hang lights so the cords don’t get damaged.
  • Inspect all light bulbs before you put them up. Replace broken or burned-out bulbs with those recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Check the light strings and extension cords you use, discarding any that are frayed or have exposed wires, loose connections or broken light sockets. Never use more than three sets of lights per extension cord.
  • Never run electrical cords and extension cords through or across doorways where they may be pinched or trip someone, or under carpets where they can be damaged or overheat.
  • Avoid plugging too many lights and decorations into an outlet. Overloaded circuits can overheat and start a fire.
  • Use Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI) outlets when plugging in outdoors.
  • Turn off all holiday lights before you go to bed or leave your home.
  • Keep ‘bubble lights’ away from children - they contain a hazardous chemical that may cause irritation or burns if the bulb breaks.
  • Choose tinsel, artificial icicles and other trimmings made of plastic or non-leaded metals. Don't let children put decorations in their mouths, as some may be harmful to their health.


  • Never leave burning candles unattended, and always keep out of reach of children and pets.
  • Keep candles in sturdy holders on a stable surface, away from curtains, trees or any other potentially flammable objects.
  • Put out all candles before leaving the room or going to sleep.
  • Try using battery-powered candles. You still get the same effect with reduced fire danger.


More holiday fire advice

  • Check the operation of the smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.
  • Make a home and evacuation plan and practice it with family members.
  • Make sure nothing touches baseboard heaters such as curtains, toys, electrical wires.
  • Make sure matches and lighters are stored in a safe place out of the reach of children.
  • Store flammable liquids away from heat sources and place them in approved container.
  • Never leave cooking unattended.

READ MORE: Emergency planning 101: Have a plan

Toys and gifts


Minimize potential hazards from new gifts by buying sturdy, well-made toys that are appropriate for your child's age. Toys for older children may contain small parts or other hazards that may make them unsafe for young children.

Toys can be recalled for health or safety reasons. Check the Healthy Canadians Recalls and Safety Alerts Database.

  • Read and follow the age labels, warnings, safety messages and other instructions that come with a toy. Check for contact information of the manufacturer or importer if you have any concerns.
  • Dispose immediately all toy packaging like plastic bags, plastic wrap, foam, staples, ties and protective film. A child can suffocate or choke on these items.
  • Ensure batteries are not accessible to children and are properly installed by an adult.

RELATED READING:10 ways to curb your holiday spending

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