Happy holidays start–and end–with safety!

The Christmas season is fast approaching and in the spirit of the festive season, it is important to practice and make time for safety.
Why? So to avoid the dangers of carelessness during a time of happiness and celebration–when most people are relaxed and not alert as usual.
< *c>Fire safety
Fire can be a dangerous enemy and this is a dangerous time of the year. The Christmas season is a very merry time of the year in almost every home but fire has no respect for happy occasions.
It can strike with fury when least expected.
Christmas brings temptations to many parents and caregivers, while visiting with friends or completing last-minute shopping, to leave small children unattended for short periods.
At the same time, decorations, trees, and wrapping paper bring an increased threat of fire unless constant care is exercised. Under certain conditions, a Christmas tree can be ignited by a single match to burn furiously to charred wood in a few seconds.
Parents and caregivers must recognize the fire danger of this season, and never leave small children in the home even for a moment.
< *c>Christmas trees
If you choose a natural tree for Christmas, examine it to ensure it is not dry and shedding needles–a condition which causes a tree to become highly combustible.
Prior to setting it up in a secure, tip-resistant stand with a provision for holding water, place a fresh cut on the trunk at least one inch (2.5 cm) from the original cut.
If an artificial tree is your choice, take care to ensure any safety warnings are observed, especially those concerning the use of lights.
< *c>Christmas lighting
When your Christmas tree is properly set up, make your next step a careful examination of any decorative lights you intend to use. Any evidence that a set of lights has deteriorated is sufficient cause to discard them.
The chance just isn’t worth taking. Also, don’t forget to unplug lights before going to bed or leaving home!
< *c>Space heaters
The use of space heaters is something you might do only from time to time.
Nevertheless, it is important you recognize that the trappings of the festive season, and the additional number of people that may be in the room where the heater is used, increases the risk of combustibles being too close and of tip-over.
< *c>Fireplaces
Obviously routines such as using only suitable fuels, avoiding over-firing, and keeping screens or doors closed need to be observed.
As well, it’s wise to be alert for the special precautions that are necessary due to the presence of combustible gift wrappings and children who, given the circumstances, may be more exuberant than normal.
Be aware that if paper is introduced into a lighted fireplace, it may result in rapidly developing flames, which quite probably will gush out the opening and ignite other combustibles.
< *c>Fire-safe toys
When performing chores on behalf of Santa, protect the little ones–and give yourself gift-wrapped peace of mind–by taking care to ensure the toys you buy do not use flammable liquids or otherwise burn readily, and that electrical toys bears a label of approval.
< *c>Festive parties
Is a party with family and friends part of your plans for the holidays? If so, decorate by using non-combustible or fire retardant treated decorations.
Remember, smokers need watching! When the party is over, check carefully for cigarette/cigar butts and ashes, especially in upholstered furniture.
Finally, just in case small children may rise before you, be sure matches and lighters are out of reach and out of sight!
< *c>Smoke alarms
Ensure properly installed and maintained working smoke alarms are on every level, outside sleeping areas, and inside the bedrooms of your home and cottage.
If you don’t have these life-saving devices, make them an “open early” gift of safety to your family.
< *c>Escape plan
Families also are urged to review their home/cottage fire escape plan for quick exit in an emergency. Remember, know two ways out of each room and have a meeting place outside.
If fire strikes, get out and stay out! Call the fire department from a neighbour’s house.
Remember, if you never need what you learn about personal safety, you have lost nothing. But if you never learn what you need, you may lose everything . . . your family and your life!

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