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Cranbrook reminds residents of holiday fire safety

With the holiday season upon us, Cranbrook Fire and Emergency Services is reminding residents of the risks associated with festivities.

“Simple, preventative steps can easily prevent most home fires during the holidays,” says Murray Robertson, Fire Prevention Coordinator with Cranbrook Fire & Emergency Services.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, fire departments respond to more than 250 structure fires caused by Christmas trees. Half are caused by electrical problems, and one in four starts from a heat source near the tree.

The City of Cranbrook has issued a few tips for picking, placing and lighting Christmas trees:

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  • Ensure artificial trees are labelled, certified or identified by the manufacturer as fire-retardant.
  • For live trees, ensure needles do not fall off when touched. Cut one or two inches off the trunk before placing it in the stand, and water the tree daily.
  • Ensure your tree is not blocking any exits and is at least three feet away from any heat sources, such as a fireplace, space heater, candles and heat vents.
  • Use lights labelled by an independent testing lab and make sure they are designed for indoor use.
  • Replace worn out light cords and connect no more than three strands together.
  • Never use lit candles to decorate a Christmas tree.
  • Turn off the tree off when you leave home or go to bed.
  • Get rid of live trees after Christmas, as dried-out trees can pose a significant fire hazard.
  • Bring in outdoor electrical lights after the holidays.

According to City officials, unattended cooking is the leading cause of home fires, so it is important to stay in the kitchen while cooking.

Candles also pose a significant risk for structure fires.

“December is the peak month for home candle fires. Consider using flameless candles, which look and smell like real candles. However, if you do use traditional candles, keep them at least 12” away from anything that can burn, and remember to blow them out when you leave the room or go to bed. Use candle holders that are sturdy, will not tip over and are placed on uncluttered surfaces,” said the City of Cranbrook.

“The holidays can quickly turn from joyful to tragic when a fire occurs,” said Robertson. “By taking simple precautions, people can avoid potential fire hazards, and make this time of year a healthy and happy one.”

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