Christmas can be a wonderful time of year. Hosting festivities in your home for friends, new and old, and family means it’s also a very busy time of year. We want to remind you to keep your home safe from fire. We realize this isn’t something that you want to think about during the holiday seasons but keeping in mind a few tips will help your holidays be merry and bright.

Some do’s and don’ts to keep in mind will help you through the season.

Do check your Christmas tree lights carry the British Safety Standard sign. Many of us have old lights that we’ve become attached to. They feel like part of your family tradition, perhaps handed down to you from your parents. If this is the case, you may want to start a new tradition of replacing old Christmas tree lights with new ones your family can enjoy and feel safe knowing their up to standard.

Don’t ever place candles near your Christmas tree or materials that can catch light easily. Candles give a beautiful atmosphere of calmness and peace. They also are the cause of many fires. We’re not saying to never use them – just use them responsibly. A good tip is to ensure at least 2 people in your family are responsible for the placement of your candles as well as the extinguishing of them at the end of the night.

Do test your smoke alarms monthly and only remove batteries when replacing them. This is something that should be done all year-round but we thought it wise to include as a tip during the holiday season. Perhaps when you first put up your tree or decorate your house for the season, make testing your smoke alarms part of that process.

Don’t drink and cook. Most fires start in the kitchen. Avoid leaving a cooker unattended. Avoid cooking when under the influence of alcohol. The holiday season usually includes imbibing in holiday cheer and we just want to remind you to hold off on the ‘cheer’ until the cooking is done.

Do make sure your family and visitors know how to escape in an emergency. We’re not suggesting that you hand out an escape route map to every guest that comes to your home. As long as the family is aware of how to escape if a fire were to break out, the guests can be taken care of by them. Having an escape route plan for your home and family is something that should be talked about year-round.

Do make sure cigarettes are put out properly. If you allow smoking in your house, ensure that ashtrays are emptied into a metal can to be disposed of later. Burning embers dropped into a plastic garbage pail can lead to an avoidable fire that can go undetected, especially if the garbage is in a room where no one is.

Don’t overload electrical sockets. Always switch Christmas lights off and unplug them before you go to bed. Just like the candles, it’s wise to have 2 people responsible for unplugging the Christmas tree lights as well as ensuring you’re not overloading an electrical socket.

Do take time to check on older relatives and neighbours this Christmas as they are at greater risk from fire. This is a very nice thing to do – thinking of others during the holiday season as well as all year. A quick check on your elderly relatives, friends and neighbours, every once in a while, will bring joy to them for the visit and help keep them safe.