But take a few precautions or some of those visitors may include a dozen men and women in yellow jackets arriving on a big red truck.
The chaos and excitement of the holidays can distract people from taking extra care with open flame and electrical products, said Lance Caven, fire prevention officer with the Langford Volunteer Fire Department.
“I’ve been to fires on Christmas Day, so it does happen,” Caven said.
The holidays may seem a perfect time to use that wood-burning fireplace, but make sure the chimney is clean and not clogged with creosote, a highly combustible byproduct of fire.
“A lot of people think if they burn dry, clean wood they’re not going to build up any creosote, but that’s not the case,” Caven said.
“It doesn’t matter what you’re burning or what the condition of the wood is, you’re going to get creosote buildup and [the chimney] needs to be cleaned out on an annual basis.”
You may also want to check that the flue is open — if it’s closed, the barrier will prevent smoke from going up the chimney, he said.
Chimney fires are nothing to trifle with. Caven said one recently kept firefighters on scene for close to an hour because burning chunks of creosote kept falling down the chimney.
“There have been a number of cases where chimney fires have turned into roof fires and eventually spread to the rest of the house,” he said.
If you have a live Christmas tree, keep it in a bucket of water and ensure it doesn’t dry out, he said.
Christmas lights should be checked carefully. Any cords that are frayed or broken should be thrown out because they could cause an electrical short and start a fire. Extension cords should also be in good condition, Caven said.
Turn off lights on the interior of your home when you’re not around, he added. Exterior lights can be put on a timer, so they come on at 4 p.m. and go off at bed time.
If you use candles, “make sure they are in non-combustible containers,” Caven said, noting that short, wide candles are less likely to tip over than tall, thin ones. Battery-powered flameless candles are a safer option.
Holiday cooks can help themselves remember to check on the progress of dinner by using a kitchen timer or carrying an oven mitt as a reminder that food is on the stove, Caven suggested.
The risk of fire can also be minimized by keeping stovetops clear.
“We’ve even had a case recently where a woman was having renovations done and she didn’t have any counter space so she had a coffee maker, coffee grinder, napkins, everything stored on top of her glass-top stove,” Caven said.
“The element got accidentally turned on and she ended up getting smoke all through the house and her kitchen was destroyed.”
Homes should have functioning smoke alarms on every level and a fire-escape plan in place.
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