Canada Safety Council/Stock photo illustration

Editorial: Enjoy well-lit and warm homes, and do so safely

Nov. 24-30, is National Home Fire Safety Week in Canada

If our homes aren’t fire safe, then we’re playing with fire.

This week, Nov. 24-30, is National Home Fire Safety Week in Canada, and the Canada Safety Council is urging Canadians to take precautions at this time of year.

Our firefighters have shown time and time again that they’re fast to get to the scene and more often than not, can get where they need to be to snuff out the blaze and prevent a home burning down or an even worse tragedy. But house fires happen – we at the newspaper cover more of them during the winter months when fireplaces and wood stoves are being stoked and space heaters and baseboards are working overtime. Fire doesn’t fool around, and nor should we – homeowners can often do better at avoiding putting themselves in dangerous situations.

Christmas lights are part of the fun of the yule season, and in general, the holidays are a time when Canadians are using a lot of electricity, points out the safety council. For National Home Fire Safety Week, the council is offering a few tips. Homeowners should take care not to use damaged extension cords – cords can be accidentally damaged during snow shovelling, for example, or by overzealous cord-pulling when installing outdoor lights. As well, homeowners should ensure the lights are turned off by bedtime to limit the chances they could overheat in the night. The safety council recommends investing in a timer system. Where available, outdoor lights should be plugged into ground-fault circuit interrupter outlets, which offer shock protection and are a useful safety measure in wet environments.

Indoors, the safety council also warns against plugging in more than one space heater into a single outlet – outlets can generally only handle one.

Most of us understand the difference a working smoke alarm makes to alert us, allow us to call 911, and have fire crews responding at the time when minutes and seconds matter. Smoke alarms should be outside every sleeping area and on every level of a home.

Fires can claim homes and even lives. If we want a well-lit, warm household over the holidays, we need to take some accountability over making sure that happens safely.

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