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Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service

Holiday Fire Prevention Tips

The Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service would like share some tips to help you minimize the risk of a fire in your home and make your holiday season enjoyable and safe.

Lights and Decorations

It's always fun to deck the halls and trim the tree during the holiday season. But some lights and decorations can be dangerous if not used carefully. Here are some tips for ensuring your decorations stay decorative, not destructive:

  • Always use Canadian Standards Association (CSA) approved holiday lights.
  • Check the bulbs, sockets, wires and plugs on your lights to ensure that nothing is cracked, broken or exposed.
  • Replace any missing bulbs on your holiday lights and ensure you are using the proper type of lights for your display (indoor or outdoor).
  • Ensure extension cords are in good condition and do not overload electric outlets.
  • Read the manufacturer instructions for information on the maximum number of light strands to connect.
  • Do not use lights on metallic trees. A faulty system could energize the tree and injure anyone who comes into contact with it.
  • Make sure to turn off all interior and exterior Christmas lights before going to sleep and whenever you are leaving your home.
  • Use only non-flammable or flame-retardant decorations, and make sure to place decorations away from heat vents and potential sources of ignition such as fireplaces.

Christmas Trees

There's nothing more festive than the scent of your Christmas tree throughout your home during the holiday season. But if you don’t take proper precautions, a natural Christmas tree can easily catch fire and rapidly fill a room with flames and deadly gases. Here are some tips for avoiding a dangerous tree situation this holiday season:

  • Choose a tree that is fresh, meaning that its needles are green, hard to pull from its branches, and not easily broken. The tree trunk should be sticky to the touch. Avoid old trees, which are dried out and therefore fire hazards. Shake the tree trunk; if many needles fall off, the tree has probably dried out.
  • Add water to the tree strand and be sure to add water daily.
  • When your tree becomes dry (losing its needles quickly), discard it promptly.
  • Keep your tree at least three (3) feet away from all heat sources, such as fireplaces, spotlights and heat vents. Heat can dry out the tree, causing it to be easily ignited by heat, flames, or sparks.
  • Keep cigarettes and candles away from your tree.
  • Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit.
  • Do not dispose of tree branches or needles in a fireplace or wood-burning stove and instead use the City’s Let's Chip In program.


Candles can be great for adding a festive feel to your home, but don’t forget to practice safe handling techniques when using them. Some tips for using candles cautiously are:

  • Never leave lit candles unattended.
  • Use approved non-combustible candleholders or bases, and place candleholders on a firm, non-slip surface.
  • Avoid putting lit candles in a drafty area to prevent uneven burning and wax dripping.
  • Extinguish a candle when it burns down to within two inches of its holder or base.
  • Keep candles away from any flammable materials, including Christmas trees, decorations, curtains, or other combustible material like bedding or cushions.
  • Keep candles, matches and lighters out of the reach of children.
  • Store candles in a cool, dark, dry place, and store candles flat to avoid warping.
  • Refrigerating candles before burning makes them burn more slowly and evenly. Wrap candles in foil or plastic to prevent the wick from absorbing moisture.
  • Keep wicks trimmed to half an inch and remove excess wax before storage. Long, crooked wicks can cause uneven burning and wax drippings

Test your smoke alarms and inform guests about your home fire escape plan!

Last update: Dec 15, 2017

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