OHS Canada Magazine

Be fire safe for the holidays: Tips from Nova Scotia’s Office of the Fire Marshall

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December 20, 2023
By OHS Canada

Health & Safety Holiday Safety nova scotia

A fire extinguisher. Photo: Adobe Stock

The Office of the Fire Marshal is reminding Nova Scotians to be fire safe at home this holiday season and all year long.

“Fires can happen quickly. Whether you’re decking the halls, cooking a meal or staying warm through a long winter’s night, it’s important to keep fire safety in mind,” said Doug MacKenzie, Nova Scotia’s Fire Marshal. “Being cautious and taking steps to address risks can help loved ones and those around you stay safe.”

People should remember to:

  • only use lights, electrical cords and power bars that are approved for use in Canada (look for the CSA, ULC, ETL or other approved certification marks) and check them for frayed or cracked wires and broken light sockets
  • only use non-combustible decorations
  • never use outdoor lights and cords indoors and never use indoor extension cords outside
  • turn off holiday lights when not in use
  • avoid running extension cords through door jambs or under carpets
  • never locate their tree near exits or heat sources
  • never leave candles unattended and keep them in a sturdy holder and out of reach of children; battery-operated candles and lights are safe and convenient alternatives
  • test smoke alarms to ensure they are functioning properly
  • stay in the kitchen while cooking, especially if using oil or cooking at high temperatures, as unattended cooking is one of the leading causes of cooking fires and deaths in Canada
  • keep anything that can burn at least one metre from any heat source such as fireplaces, wood stoves, radiators or space heaters
  • keep portable generators outside, away from windows, and as far away from their home as possible to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning
  • not bring barbeques or camp stoves inside to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning
  • install and test carbon monoxide alarms at least once a month
  • plug only one heat-producing appliance, like a space heater, into an electrical outlet at a time
  • have a qualified professional clean and inspect their chimney and vents every year
  • store cooled ashes in a tightly covered metal container and keep it outside at least three metres from their home and any nearby buildings
  • think about including smoke alarms, fire extinguishers and carbon monoxide detectors on their holiday shopping lists and giving the gift of safety this year.

In Nova Scotia, half of all home heating fires occur in December, January and February, it noted.

In 2022-23, the fire marshal’s office reported “misuse” was the leading category of identified fire causes; the category includes fires caused by cooking left unattended and improperly discarded ignition sources, such as cigarettes.


12 days of holiday safety

We’re also resharing our infographic from last year, created with tips from the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency.


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