Red Deer typically sees a 30 per cent increase in fires in December and Red Deer Emergency Services wants to remind residents to take precautions to stay safe during the festive season.
People can reduce their risk of fires by paying special attention when cooking, drinking responsibly, and taking care with cigarettes.
“The hustle and bustle of the holidays can dramatically increase your risk of having a fire,” said fire prevention officer Shane Dussault.
“All too often, fires are started by unattended cooking and in many cases alcohol is involved.”
Smoking is another leading cause of fires during the holiday season.
He said careless cooking and smoking are leading causes of fires in Red Deer throughout the year. Added distractions in December increase those types of fires.
Cigarettes should not be extinguished in plant pots as they may contain peat moss or shredded bark which can ignite easily. Ashes should also be emptied into a metal container — not a garbage can — and put outside.
He said having working smoke alarms are required by law. People may think it’s a nuisance when the alarm is triggered when they are cooking, but it’s alerting them that something is wrong.
The most common reason smoke alarms don’t work is because the batteries are dead or taken out, he said.
“If you don’t have that working smoke alarm, your first line of defence is gone,” Dussault said.
Holiday safety tips include:
- Don’t leave the kitchen if there is something cooking on the stove. If a pot catches fire, don’t try to move it. Cover the pot with a lid to smother the flames and turn off the burner.
- Keep things that can burn, such as cooking utensils and paper towels, a safe distance from the stove. They can easily ignite if they are too close.
- Cigarettes can smoulder among upholstered items for hours before igniting. Check sofas and chairs for cigarettes that may have fallen between the cushions. Provide large, deep ashtrays for smokers.
- Drink responsibly and keep an eye on others in your household. Excessive alcohol consumption is a contributing factor in many residential fires.
- Before going to bed, make sure all cigarettes are properly extinguished and the stove is turned off.
- Install and maintain working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms outside all sleeping areas of the home. Develop and practice a home escape plan with everyone in the home.