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Don't overload circuits and cook with a keen eye: Coquitlam's guide to avoiding holiday fires

Local firefighters are urging residents to take all precautions to protect their homes.
A beautiful display of Christmas lights. | Getty Images

The last thing local property owners want to worry about during the winter is their home going up in flames. 

Coquitlam firefighters are reaching out to residents with a point-by-point holiday safety guide in hopes of fewer emergency calls so everyone can enjoy the holiday season.

As temperatures begin to drop, the department says homeowners may choose to go to lengths to keep their families warm, as well as keep their lights on later with the nights getting longer.

Here are the tips Coquitlam Fire Rescue is asking everyone to consider for winter:

  • Use approved light sets only
    • Do not overload circuits, check all light sets prior to use and discard any that are frayed or damaged, and use proper clips (not staples) to install outdoors.
    • Always turn off lights before leaving home or going to bed.
  • Home heating appliances
    • Ensure all furnaces, gas fireplaces, chimneys or space heaters are in good working condition, and remember to place portable devices at least one metre away from flammable materials. 
  • Cooking
    • Please remember to pay attention and never leave it unattended.
    • Kitchen fires are the number one cause of home fires and home injuries.
  • Candles can easily ignite anything
    • Open flames can be unpredictable at times
    • Choose battery-operated "flameless" candles as an alternative.
  • Trees
    • If using a real cut tree, select one that is fresh (with needles that are difficult to pull off the branches), make a fresh cut off the bottom, immerse the trunk in water (replenishing daily) and place it at least one metre away from heat sources. 
  • The silent killer
    • Carbon monoxide is an invisible, odourless and colourless gas created when fuels, such as natural gas, burn incompletely in the home. It can cause serious illness and even be fatal.
    • Install a carbon monoxide alarm in a central location of your home following the manufacturer's instructions. 
  • Smoke alarms
    • Check that there is a working smoke alarm on every level of your home, and that all family members can recognize its sound — smoke alarms save lives. 
  • Plan your escape route
    • Make sure your family has an emergency escape plan and that all family members know of and practice at least two ways out, both at night and during daylight hours.
    • Children should be taught how to escape on their own in case no one is able to assist them.

For more information, you can visit the City of Coquitlam's website.