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Ask a Restoration Specialist: Our Best Winter Fire Safety Tips

Ask a Restoration Specialist: Our Best Winter Fire Safety Tips

Heating and holiday decorations can inadvertently increase your risk of a home fire. Our winter fire safety tips can help keep your loved ones safe.

As people move indoors during the cold winter months, residential fires become more common, peaking between December and March. Unsurprisingly, the leading cause of home fires is heating equipment.

Here are some winter fire safety tips to help keep your home safe and toasty warm, no matter how you choose to heat it. As an added bonus, we provided some lesser-known fire prevention advice for when you break out the holiday decorations and entertain a house full of guests.


  • Keep anything flammable at least three feet away from your heating equipment, including a furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater.
  • Maintain a three-foot buffer between children and any open fires or space heaters.
  • Have your chimneys and heating equipment cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified HVAC professional
  • Turn off portable heaters when you leave the room or go to sleep.
  • Only plug one heating appliance into an electrical outlet at

Fireplaces and Wood Stoves

  • Build your fire using only seasoned and dried wood. Never use gasoline or other flammable liquids to start a fire, as it can burn out of control. This is an important winter fire safety tip!
  • Burning excess wood can lead to tar and creosote build-up in your chimney or stovepipes, causing a fire hazard.
  • Recycle gift wrap, boxes and other packing material. Never burn it, as wrapping paper ignites suddenly, burns intensely and can cause a flash fire.
  • Place a screen in front of the fireplace to protect from flying sparks.
  • Leave your fireplace or wood stove damper open until the fire goes out and the ashes have cooled enough to touch.
  • Regularly clean the ashes. Store cooled ashes in a covered metal container outside at least 3 metres from your home or other flammable material.

Christmas Trees

  • If you decide to buy an artificial tree, make sure it’s labelled as “fire resistant”. This means the tree will resist burning and extinguish quickly.
  • If you decide to buy a live tree, look for these things to ensure freshness:
    • The tree is green and loses few needles when tapped against the ground
    • Needles are difficult to pull off the branch, and when bent, do not break.
    • The trunk butt is sticky with resin.
    • Keep your live tree well-watered because indoor air dries trees out quickly. Don’t place your tree near fireplaces or radiators.

Lights and Electrical

  • Always use CSA-approved lights for both indoor and outdoor use. Check each set of lights annually for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, and loose connections. Dispose of any damaged lights.
  • Only connect three standard string lights to a single extension cord.
  • Use insulated staples or hooks to hold string lights in place, not nails or tacks.

We hope you found these winter fire safety tips useful!

Life is unpredictable, despite our best efforts. If an accident does happen and your home is damaged by smoke and fire, don’t hesitate to contact us.