12 Days of Holiday Safety | SPSA

12 Days of Holiday Safety

Spending increased time indoors during the holiday season elevates the risk of fire.
The Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency (SPSA) urges residents of Saskatchewan to engage in the 12 Days of Holiday Safety campaign, promoting safety measures to ensure the well-being of themselves and their families throughout the festive season.

Day 1:  Holiday Preparedness

Ensure your home is equipped to celebrate the holiday safely. Each home should have a working carbon monoxide detector, smoke alarm, fire extinguisher and a
first-aid kit.

Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors should be installed according to manufacturer directions and tested monthly.

Make sure you inspect your fire extinguishers. They should be inspected monthly
and a certified technician should check it each year.

Maintain your first-aid kit by checking that each item is in good working order,
has not deteriorated and is within its expiry date. Items should be replaced as soon
as possible after they have been used.

Day 2: Winter Driving

Winter travel can be dangerous in certain conditions. Before you hit the road, make sure your vehicle emergency kit is packed and check the road conditions by using the Highway Hotline app or website.

Some items you should keep in your winter emergency kit include:

  • bottled water
  • non-perishable food/energy bars
  • manual can opener
  • flashlight and batteries
  • first-aid kit
  • snow shovel and ice scraper
  • booster cables
  • cat litter or sand
  • phone charger and battery
  • blanket/sleeping bag

Give yourself extra time to reach your destination or stay home in bad travel conditions. Always tell someone where you are going and when you expect to arrive.  Slow down in bad weather, and don’t rely on cruise control or lane-keeping assistance in winter weather.

Always remember to wear your seatbelt, and never get behind the wheel if you are tired or under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Keep your phone fully charged and remember not to use it while driving. Have a passenger make talk on the phone or pull over if you need to call 9-1-1.

If you are inexperienced or are uncomfortable with driving in winter conditions, learn how to manage skidding and spin-out situations in a safe environment by taking a winter driving course.

Day 3:  Child Fire Safety 

Having children in the home can increase the risk of a fire during the holiday season. Lit candles should be out of reach of little hands to avoid being knocked over. Consider using electric candles instead.

Establish a one-metre “kid-free zone” around possible burn hazards such as lit candles, fireplaces or space heaters. Children are curious and will investigate cooking appliances, candles or fires in fireplaces. Never leave them alone around an open flame.

Never hold a child while you are cooking, drinking a hot liquid, or carrying hot foods or liquids.

Keep matches and lighters out of reach from children, up high and preferably in a locked cabinet.

Day 4: Holiday Lighting

Before you put your holiday lights up, check to see if they have broken sockets,
frayed or damaged wiring, or loose connections. Damaged or frayed lights should
be disposed.

Always use lights that are CSA approved. Make sure that you only use indoor lights inside — and outdoor lights outside.

When hanging lights outside, use insulated staples or specially designed hooks, not nails or tacks. Do not puncture light strands with staples or nails.

Never use lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights and you may be electrocuted if you touch it.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the number of light strands that can be safely connected to a single outlet. When you leave the house or go to bed, shut off
all indoor holiday lights.

Day 5: Plan Your Escape

A fire escape plan could save your life. It’s important that everyone, including overnight guests, are familiar with your home escape plan. Everyone must know
what to do and where to go when the smoke alarm sounds.

Plan two ways out of your home from every room so you can still leave quickly in the event one route is blocked by fire. Designate a spot outside where everyone will gather after evacuating your home.

Practice your home fire escape plan with all members of your household at least once a year. Provide help to younger children or older adults who may need assistance to evacuate.

Day 6: Fireplace Safety

Before you use your fireplace, ensure you have inspected it carefully for damage.
If damage is present, call a qualified professional for repairs.

Only use seasoned and dry wood. Never use gasoline or any other flammable liquid to start a fire. Do not burn your tree, wrapping paper or cardboard boxes in your fireplace. Use a fireplace screen to control sparks.

When using a fireplace or wood-stove, ensure there is a fresh air supply into your home.

Keep flammable objects such as holiday decorations, stockings, cards, etc. at least one metre from your fireplace when in use.

Never leave your fire unattended. Clean the ashes regularly and place cool ashes in
a metal container with a lid and store outside, away from flammable materials.

Day 7:  Emergency Preparedness Kit

Everyone should have a winter preparedness kit for their home and vehicle in case of an emergency.

A household emergency kit should contain the essentials and be able to sustain you and your family for at least 72 hours.

Some items you should keep in your household emergency kit include:

  • bottled water
  • non-perishable food/energy bars
  • manual can opener
  • flashlight and batteries
  • first-aid kit
  • medication
  • spare keys
  • cash
Day 8:  Extension Cords and Power Strips

Buy only CSA-approved extension cords and power strips. These devices should only be used as a temporary connection. If you require more outlets, hire a qualified electrician to install them.

Before using, check for any damage. If the insulation is worn or |if there is any damage to the cord or plug in, the cord should be discarded.

Never place a cord under a rug, wall, doorway, ceiling or floor. If a cord is covered, heat cannot escape, which could result in a fire.

Extension cords and power strips should never be plugged into one another and should never be used for major appliances.

Only use outdoor extension cords outdoors and keep them clear of snow and standing water.

Day 9: Pet Fire Safety

Keeping pets in the home during the holiday season can heighten the risk of fire incidents. Ensure that lit candles are positioned away from wagging tails to prevent them from accidentally knocking over and consider opting for electric candles as a safer alternative.

Create a one-metre “pet-free zone” around potential burn hazards like lit candles, fireplaces, or space heaters. Pets tend to be curious around cooking appliances, candles, or fireplace fires, so it’s crucial never to leave them unattended near an
open flame.

When using a fireplace, always employ a metal or heat-tempered glass screen and keep it securely in place.

Additionally, closely monitor pets to ensure they do not chew through electrical cords, and promptly address any issues by consulting a professional. 

Day 10:  Lithium-ion Batteries

Lithium-ion batteries store a large amount of energy in a small amount of space and can easily overheat, catch fire or explode if not used properly.

Make sure to always monitor your devices when charging, and do not charge devices under your pillow, on your bed or on a couch. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions, and only use the charging cord that came with the device.

Batteries and devices should be kept at room temperature and out of direct sunlight to prevent them from overheating.

Stop using the battery or device if you notice an odour, change in colour, too much heat, change in shape, leaking or odd noises.

When it comes time to dispose of your battery or device, do not place it in the
trash. Look for a battery recycling location or contact your community for
disposal instructions.

Day 11:  Kitchen Fires

The leading cause of home fires and injuries is cooking. It is advisable to avoid using the stove or stove-top when tired or under the influence of alcohol.

Keep anything that can catch fire – oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains – away from the stove top.

Stay in the kitchen while you are cooking and turn off the stove if you must leave.

In case of a grease fire, cover the pan with a lid to smother flames, turn off the heat, and never use water. For an oven fire, turn off heat, keep the door closed. If uncertain or unable to control the fire, exit, close the door, and call 9-1-1 from outside.

Day 12:  Lit Candles

During the holidays, position candles at least 30 centimetres from decorations,
high-traffic zones, and areas accessible to children or pets. Avoid placing lit candles on trees or near evergreens for safety.

Exercise care when transporting a lit candle, and ensure to utilize a robust,
non-flammable candle holder that is sufficiently large to contain any dripping wax.

Ensure you put out any lit candles before leaving the room, going to sleep, or if the flame is within five centimetres of the candle holder’s edge or decorative material.

Avoid using candles in the event of a power outage; opt for flashlights and battery-powered lights instead.

Do not leave children alone in a room with a burning candle. Matches and lighters should be kept up high and out of children’s reach.

Never use a candle if oxygen is used in the home.

Consider using a battery-powered flameless candle to reduce the risk of a fire.


Holiday Fire Statistics
  • Candle-related home fires peak in the month of December.
  • About one-third of Christmas tree fires at home result from electrical issues.
  • The second and third highest days for home cooking fires throughout the year
    are December 24 and 25.
  • Unattended cooking is the primary cause of kitchen fires.
  • Around one-third of candle-related house fires begin in bedrooms.
  • Christmas trees become increasingly flammable as they dry out, with 30% of tree
    fires occurring in January.



12 Days of Holiday Safety
The Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency (SPSA) encourages Saskatchewan residents to participate in the 12 Days of Holiday Safety campaign to help keep them and their families safe this holiday season.

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