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Holiday Safety Tips from the Calgary Fire Department

Halloween's over - it's time to look at pulling out those old Christmas decorations again! Before you deck the halls, check out these safety tips to make sure you have a jolly holiday.

 Christmas Trees

Get a freshly-cut tree. It stays green longer and is less of a fire hazard.

  • Always test for freshness before buying. A tree with high moisture content is safer. Very few needles should fall when the butt of the tree is tapped on the ground. Needles should bend, not break, and the stump should be sticky with resin.

  • Use a tree stand with a broad base for better balance and a large-water reservoir to immerse the tree butt. Make sure the base of the tree is always in water.

  • Do not set your tree up near a heat source such as a radiator, television, fireplace or heating duct, and do not block doors or windows.

  • Never use lit candles on a tree.

  • After the holidays, properly dispose of trees as soon as possible. The City of Calgary has a Christmas tree recycling program. For details visit





  • Choose flame-retardant or flame- resistant and non-combustible decorations.
  • 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. If they make contact with defective wiring, they become a shock hazard.



Use CSA (Canadian Standards Association) and/or ULc (Underwriters Laboratories of Canada) approved lights.

  • Use the proper lights for the environment. Indoor lights should not be used outdoors because they lack weatherproof connections. Some outdoor lights burn too hot for indoor use.
  • Inspect lights before use. Check for cracked bulbs and frayed, broken or exposed wires. Discard faulty bulbs.
  • Do not use electric lights on metallic trees. A faulty system could energize the tree and shock or electrocute anyone who touches it. Illuminate metallic trees with colored floodlights placed at a safe distance from the tree and out of reach.
  • Turn off all tree and display lights before retiring for the night or leaving the house.
  • Make sure not to overload an electrical outlet or extension cord.



  • Place candles away from combustible materials such as curtains, paper, furniture, etc.
  • A responsible adult should always be present when candles are lit.
  • Keep candles in sturdy holders, on stable surfaces and away from drafts, children and pets.
  • Keep matches and lighters used to light candles in a safe place, away from children.
  • Ensure candles are extinguished when leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Remember: when you go out, blow out.



Never burn gift-wrap, boxes, cartons or other packaging in the fireplace. They burn too rapidly and generate far too much heat.

  • Do not 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. Fireplace glass can heat to more than 200 degrees Celsius. Keep children away from fireplaces to avoid injury.
  • Never use gasoline or other flammable liquids to start a fire.
  • Use only seasoned, dried wood.
  • Never leave the fire unattended or let it smoulder.
  • Clean out the ashes regularly, but allow them to cool for 72 hours in a metal container. Store outside, away from flammable materials.
  • Do not use Christmas trees for firewood.
  • Have chimneys cleaned annually by a certified technician.


Electrical Outlets

  • The tendency is to overload wall outlets during the holiday season. This is an unsafe practice - avoid even for short durations.
  • Inspect all cords before using. Make sure they are CSA and/or ULc certified. Look for loose connections, frayed or exposed wires and discard defective cords. Read the labels and manufacturer's instructions to ensure proper use.
  • Fully insert plugs into outlets. Poor contact may cause overheating or shock.
  • To avoid overheating, do not coil or bunch extension cords while in use, and do not run them under carpet or rugs.


Kitchens (Grease/Fat Fires)

  • For grease/fat fires, smother the flames by putting on an oven mitt and sliding a lid over the pan from the side.
  • Turn off the heat source immediately.
  • Use baking soda (flour can be explosive) on shallow grease fires.
  • Never turn on the overhead fan. This could spread the fire.
  • Never, never, never throw water on a grease fire.


Gift Suggestions

  • Home smoke alarm (CSA and ULc approved)
  • Carbon monoxide detector (CSA and ULc approved)
  • Batteries for smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Multi-purpose (ABC) fire extinguisher
  • Candlesnuffer
  • Thermostat-controlled deep fryer
  • Good quality oven mitts


Last but not least... make sure your smoke detectors work.


For more information, call 3-1-1 or


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