Dear Santa, we just thought we would drop you a quick note to make sure you know that at Vernon Fire Rescue Services we have really tried our best to be good this year. We have worked hard at keeping people and their property safe from fire while still being diligent with our training.
We have tirelessly pried apart the twisted metal of countless motor vehicle accidents and still took the time to check people’s smoke alarms. We have travelled far and wide throughout our city and given the message of fire safety to all that would listen and just in case you were wondering, we were relentless in teaching the young and the old the value of Stop, Drop and Roll.
So, this Christmas, Santa, we at VFRS are really hoping that we have at least been good enough for you to grant us just one wish. It’s not expensive or too hard to obtain. Our wish is only that along with enjoying the magic of the holidays, people will take the time to be careful and safe. It’s not always that easy and there is a lot to remember so here is our “how to” list from the Canada Safety Council:
Drivers and pedestrians: Watch out for each other and keep an eye on where you are going.
Pedestrians: Wear light or high visibility clothing so you can be seen when walking on or crossing roads at night.
Do not drink and drive; and plan for a safe way to get home.
Make sure your vehicle is winterized and has the proper winter tires.
The Christmas Tree
Get a freshly cut tree. It will stay green longer and be less of a fire hazard. Try to pick a tree with a strong green colour and noticeable fragrance.
Place the tree in a stand that will hold 2 to 3 litres of water and top it up daily. If the water drops below the trunk, the stem may reseal itself, requiring a fresh cut. Use a tree stand that has widespread legs for better balance.
Do not set your tree up near a heat source such as a radiator, television, fireplace, heating duct or sunny window. It should not block doors or windows.
Never use lighted candles on the tree.
Remove the tree within 10 to 14 days. After that amount of time in a heated building, even the freshest tree can start to dry out.
Do not use electric light strings/sets on metallic trees. A faulty system could energize the tree.
Turn off all tree and display lights before retiring for the night or before leaving the house.
Candles and Fireplaces
Place candles away from absolutely anything that could catch fire.
Never leave burning candles unattended.
Burn them only when a responsible adult is overseeing the flame.
Put candles in sturdy holders on a stable surface, well away from drafts, curtains, children and pets.
Snuff them out before leaving the room or going to sleep.
Never burn gift wrappings, boxes, cartons, or other types of packing in the fireplace. They burn too rapidly and generate far too much heat.
Don’t hang Christmas stockings from the mantel when the fireplace is in use.
Always use a screen in front of the fireplace to protect against flying sparks.
Never use gasoline or any other flammable liquids to start a fire.
Use only seasoned and dried wood.
Never leave the fire unattended or let it smoulder.
Clean the ashes regularly. Place the ashes in a metal container and store outside away from flammable materials.
Don’t use Christmas trees for firewood.
Choose decorations that are flame-retardant, non-combustible and non-conductive.
If there are young children or pets in your home, avoid very small decorations.
Avoid using angel hair (glass wool) together with spray-on snowflakes. This combination is highly combustible.
Do not use metallic ornaments on the tree. If they make contact with defective wiring they could become a shock hazard.
Use Canadian Standards Association (CSA) certified light strings/sets.
There is often a tendency to overload wall outlets during the holiday season. This is an unsafe practice and should be avoided even for short durations.
Inspect all cords before using. Make sure they are CSA certified. Look for loose connections or frayed or exposed wire. Discard any defective cords. Read the labels and manufacturer’s instructions to ensure proper use.
The holidays are a time for fun, friends and family. Please help us keep it that way. Have a very merry Christmas and a happy new year.
Vernon Fire Rescue Services
Lawrie Skolrood is deputy chief with Vernon Fire Rescue Services.