Home fire safety: plan now for a safe holiday season

GUELPH, ON, Nov. 24, 2005 – Canadians are very familiar with the joys of the holiday season. What they may not realize is how frequently tragedy strikes because of the increased risk of home fires at this time. In fact, candle-related fires go up 140% over the Christmas period.

Taking the time to use your safety sense can prevent a disaster. “The home fire claims we see during the holidays are particularly tragic, and most can be avoided by taking simple precautions,” said Kathy Bardswick, President and CEO of The Co-operators. “Candles must always be used responsibly, and every family should have a home escape plan in case of emergency.”

Follow these simple tips to reduce the risk of candle fires:

  • Use sturdy candleholders that won’t tip or burn, preferably with a glass shade around the candle.

  • Use candles only in rooms where there is a responsible adult.

  • Keep candles away from flammable items such as clothes, books, papers, Christmas trees, decorations, window blinds, and curtains.

  • Keep candles away from high-traffic locations where they can be easily knocked over, especially areas accessible to children or pets.

  • Extinguish taper and pillar candles when they burn to within two inches of the holder, and container candles before the last half-inch of wax begins to melt.

How does a little flame become so dangerous? Firefighter and creator of “The Great Escape” fire safety game Shane Ferguson advises that many fires start when candles are left unattended, flammable material is left too close to the flame, or a child handles a candle.

“I have witnessed first hand the destruction that this deadly force inflicts upon people and their property,” says Ferguson. “Fire can strike anytime and anywhere, so make sure each member of your family knows how to react. Prevent fires by creating a safe home environment, and develop and practise your home escape plan regularly. Fire safety is a skill that will stay with you and your loved ones for a lifetime.”

The Co-operators is proud to sponsor “The Great Escape,” an interactive computer game that teaches children how to make their way out of their home safely when the smoke alarm sounds. For more information, or to order a free copy of the game, please visit www.stayingalive.ca.

About The Co-operators:

Based in Guelph, The Co-operators is a group of Canadian companies focussing on home, auto, life, group, commercial and farm insurance, as well as investment products and property management and development. Owned by 31 Canadian co-operative organizations, The Co-operators provides insurance protection to more than two million Canadians.