City Services

Seasonal Fire Safety

Christmas Fire Safety Tips

Natural Christmas Trees

Before buying a Christmas tree, test for freshness by tapping the base of the tree on the ground or pulling lightly on a limb. If many needles fall off or needles can easily be pulled off, the tree is too dry. Keep your tree as fresh as possible by placing the stump of the tree in a bucket of water out of doors until you are ready to decorate. Before setting up the tree inside the house, trim two inches off the stem diagonally so it can absorb water. Mount the tree securely in a large, wide based reservoir stand and add water each day to ensure the tree is well watered. Choose a suitable location for your tree, ensuring that it is well away from heating sources and clear of all exits.

Artificial Trees

Though fireproof, metal or aluminium trees are electrically conductive and cannot be decorated with any electrical product. The metal can cause a short and a fire, or simply become "hot" or deliver a nasty shock. Aluminium trees can be illuminated by a colourful spotlight placed a safe distance from the tree, as set out in the manufacturer's instructions.

Decorations and Presents

Christmas wrapping paper and decorations can be highly combustible, and should be kept away from heat sources such as candles, lamps, heaters, fireplaces, and wood burning stoves. Gift wrap and boxes should be collected as soon as gifts are opened, and discarded with the garbage or recycled where appropriate.

Indoor Lights and Electrical Decorations

Use only those lights that have been tested and labelled by an approved testing laboratory. Examine light strings, cords, plugs and receptacles before using. Discard any that have frayed cords, cracks in the lamp holders, or loose connections. Do not overload electrical circuits or extension cords. Follow instructions on cord labels regarding connecting light strings to extension cords. Never place furniture or other objects over electrical cords and in particular, never run electrical cords under a rug. With a rug covering a cord, any damage the cord may sustain can go unnoticed. Always unplug the light string before attempting to replace a bulb. Ensure the voltage and/or wattage marked on the light set is compatible with the replacement light. This is especially important with mini-lights as the come in different voltages. Avoid using timers on indoor lights. Tree lights could turn on when nobody is home and create a potential fire hazard. Always turn Christmas lights off before leaving home or going to sleep.

Outdoor Lighting

Use only those lights that have been tested and labelled by an approved testing laboratory and are marked for outdoor use. Turn off the electricity to the supply outlet before working on outdoor wiring. Keep electrical connections off the ground and clear of metal objects. Use insulated tape, not metal nails or tacks, to hold strings of outdoor lights in place. Be careful not to tape the cords either over, under, or along metal eaves troughs. Run cords above ground, keeping them out of puddles and snow. Tape all plug connections with plastic electrical tape to make them as watertight as possible. To prevent moisture from entering bulb sockets, bulbs should face the ground. When using spotlights or flood lights to light your home or trees, ensure they are marked for outdoor use to withstand snow and rain. Indoor floodlights should never be used outdoors.


Never use lit candles as decorations on Christmas trees. Place candles in non-tip candle holders and ensure they are well away from the Christmas tree or other combustible materials. Never leave lit candles unattended and ensure that they are always out of the reach of children. Matches and lighters are tools, not toys. Store them high up where children can't reach them.


Have your chimney inspected at least once a year and have it cleaned if necessary. Always use a fire screen and burn only material appropriate for fireplaces. Burn only wood - never burn paper or pine boughs in a fireplace as the burning particles can float up your chimney onto your roof or into your yard. Never use flammable liquids in a fireplace. Because ashes may rekindle, never store them in your home. Always remove ashes from your fireplace in a metal container.

Fire Safety in the Kitchen

Practice fire safety in the kitchen during the festive season. Don't leave cooking food unattended - oil or fat can ignite. If you are faced with a grease fire, remember to put a lid on it and turn the heat source off. Always turn pot handles to the back of the stove when cooking to avoid pots being pulled or knocked off.

Halloween Fire Safety


Purchase Halloween costumes that are flame resistant. Avoid costumes with long trailing pieces that may easily ignite. When constructing a costume for children, always keep fire safety in mind.

Children should not carry candles as a light source or as part of a costume. Rather, provide your child with a flashlight that can safely light the way.

Educate children to stay clear of open flames and other heat sources. Ensure that children know how to perform STOP, DROP, and ROLL should their clothes catch on fire. STOP immediately, DROP to the ground, and ROLL over and over to extinguish the flames.

Avoid decorating with candles or torch lights

Ensure that combustible Halloween decorations such as crepe paper, cornstalks, and dried flowers are kept well away from sources of heat. Keep all exits clear of decorating materials.

Purchase and install working smoke alarms, and practice home escape plans. Ensure that all children in your home know the location of the exits, should an emergency situation arise.