Holiday fire safety tips from an expert

As Islanders put their trees and lights up for the holiday season, P.E.I.'s Deputy Fire Marshal John Chisolm is reminding people about fire safety.

"Check their smoke detectors, make sure that they're working, make sure that there are fresh batteries," Chisolm said. 

While you're at it, he said, it's also a good idea to check your carbon monoxide detectors are running properly. 

Here are a few of Chisolm's other tips on how to prevent a fire from happening in your home.

A safe distance

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Chisolm said it's important for Islanders using space heaters or a wood stove to ensure that combustible materials like wrapping paper are kept at a distance.

"At this time of year we also like to say to people who are using heating appliances, 'Let's make sure that there's a three-foot clearance around any heating appliance,'" he said. 

In addition, while lit candles can provide a festive atmosphere, people should keep them away from children and other combustible items as well. 

"Put them in a holder that's located in an area that's not going to get knocked over," he said. 

Christmas trees

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For people putting up real Christmas trees, Chisolm said there are a couple of things to keep in mind. 

"Make sure the tree that you're bringing into your home is a fresh tree, that the needles are not falling off," he said.

"Water that tree every day and as soon as you notice that it is not absorbing water … anymore it's time to take the tree out of the house." 

Don't keep trees inside the house for an extended period of time, he said. 

It's also important to remember that holiday string lights get hot, and that means they need to breathe. Make sure not to smother them in garland or decorations, and give them a break by turning them off. 

'Just be mindful'

He also said there is an important distinction between indoor and outdoor lights. Don't confuse the two and follow the manufacturer's instructions. 

"You want to make sure that your lights … the wiring is not frayed in anyway, cracked, when you're putting those up," he said. 

"If you have older lights that are frayed or cracked replace those right away."

But if there's one big piece of advice he'd like people to walk away with it's, "Just be mindful … be attentive. Don't leave the room if there's a lit candle or a space heater."

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