Tips for a safe Holiday Season
The end-of-year holiday season is a time for merriment. But misfortunes such as fire, theft, or vandalism can quickly dampen the festive spirit.
Christmas shopping precautions
As you to and fro picking up Christmas gifts, stow your purchases out of sight in the trunk of your car to avoid break-ins and vandalism. If you can’t hide items in the trunk, cover them up so as not to tempt thieves. Items showcased on the back seat are not safe, even if the car is locked and parked in the mall’s underground parking lot. The constant coming and going in the lot will not dissuade the nimble criminal.
If you’re carrying a purse or backpack, don’t forget to check it’s properly closed and keep an eye on it. Pickpockets need only seconds!
Make sure you tuck your credit card safely away after each purchase; don’t let yourself feel hurried by the line-up behind you. Everyone’s turn will come.
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree
If you’re opting for a real Christmas tree, make sure it’s a fresh one.
- The needles should be supple and not drop easily.
- Leave the tree outdoors, sheltered from the wind and sun, until it’s time to bring it indoors to set up.
- Put it in a bucket and top up the water every day.
- Take the tree down as soon as the needles start to drop and dispose of it in an eco- responsible way.
Putting it up:
- First cut a slice off the trunk; the new cut will help the tree take up water.
- Use a solid stand that can contain a lot of water and install the tree somewhere it won’t get in people’s way and cause accidents.
- Set it up at least one metre from heat sources (baseboard heaters, other heaters, fireplaces, etc.).
- Make sure you use only certified (CSA, ULC or UL) indoor lights, extension cords and power bars.
- Do not overload power outlets. If the total watts used by your light sets is more than 1,500, use more than one outlet.
- Avoid running any extension cables along doorsills or under carpets.
- Turn off the lights when you’re out or when you go to bed.
The same safety recommendations about locating the tree and about tree lights apply if you are putting up an artificial tree.
Use the special outdoor tree lights if you are decorating an outdoor Christmas tree.
Don’t play with fire
Make absolutely sure your fireplace is in perfect working order. Check that the chimney does not need sweeping. If in doubt, call in the specialists. There is no chance worth taking.
Ash and embers can stay hot for 72 hours. Put the ashes in a metal container with a raised bottom, such as a large can or ash bucket, which you should then store outside, away from all combustible materials.
Use candle holders that are:
- Made of non-combustible material such as metal rather than wood or plastic
- Big enough to catch hot dripping wax
- Capable of holding the candle securely
Place the candle holders on flat surfaces where they cannot be knocked over.
Buy minimal or non-drip candles.
Place candles away from any materials likely to catch fire. Keep your eye on lit candles at all times and away from children and pets – accidents happen so fast.
Don’t forget to keep matches and lighters out of reach too.
Keep your kitchen work space clear, especially around the stove. If too many cooks spoil the broth, then too many cooks can also accidentally start a fire.
Don’t allow children to play where you’re working. A dropped knife, a spilled pan or spitting hot fat can easily cause injuries.
Take special care with electrical devices such as raclette grills and fondue sets:
- Make sure the machines are certified.
- If the appliance is on the dining table, attach the electrical cord to one of the table legs so that no one trips over it.
- Allow the appliance to cool down before moving it.
Don’t invite thieves in
Don’t advertize your plans for the holidays on social media.
Keep exits clear
Make sure you clear the entrances and exits to and from your house: basement windows, front and back doors, patio doors, etc. In the event of an emergency, you’ll be glad you did.
Also make sure that the access routes to your home are unobstructed and de-iced. The last thing you want is to spend New Year’s Eve in hospital.
Relax this holiday season, have a great time with your family and, above all, celebrate in safety.