Keep the following prevention tips in mind for safe decorating during the festive season.
Choose an artificial tree because it is less likely to catch fire than a natural tree.
If you choose a natural tree
- Select a freshly cut tree, whose needles do not shed easily.
- Cut the trunk at an angle and place it in a container of water. Water it on a daily basis.
- Install the tree more than 1 m away from all heat sources (electric baseboard, heater, fireplace, etc.).
- Unplug the Christmas lights when the tree begins to dry out.
- Check with your municipality before disposing of your tree; many have tree collections that turn trees into compost.
- Choose lights that are certified by a recognized organization such as the CSA or ULC.
- Choose low-heat-emitting bulbs such as LED bulbs.
- Examine your lights before installing them and discard any that are defective, desiccated, or cracked.
- Make sure your replacement bulbs have the same voltage as the old ones.
- Avoid putting indoor-use decorative lights outdoors, or vice versa.
- Plug any item used outdoors into a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet.
- Never overload the electrical system.
- Use a timer or always unplug your decorative lights when you leave home or go to bed.
- After the festive season, bring in outdoor lights to prevent damage from the weather and sun. Decorative lights are not designed for long-term use.
- If you must use extension cords, choose models approved by a recognized organization such as the CSA or ULC.
- Avoid cords that are too long and would need to be coiled, as the cable may overheat and cause arcing.
- If you must use an extension cord for your outdoor decorations, make sure it is designed for outdoor use.
- Do not overload outlets and extension cords. Use a power strip instead.
- Do not hide your extension cords under a rug or carpet. The weight of people walking on them and the friction they cause can damage the cord and increase the risk of fire.
- Do not leave an extension cord in a doorway. The insulation of the cord could be damaged if the door closes on it.
- Use only one extension cord at a time. Do not connect extension cords end to end.