Holiday fire safety tips


Each year, preventable fires during the holiday season injure British Columbians and cause thousands of dollars in property damage.

Because many fires are preventable, the Office of the Fire Commissioner and Emergency Management BC offer some basic fire safety tips so that British Columbians can enjoy a fire-safe holiday season.

Candle safety and holiday decorating

  • Use non-combustible containers for tea lights and votive candles. Battery-operated candles are an excellent alternative.
  • Ensure that all candles are extinguished before going to bed or if they will be left unattended.
  • Keep combustibles, such as trees, wrapping paper and decorations, away from heat sources.
  • Ensure your real tree stays fresh by watering it often. Consider a fire-resistant artificial tree as an alternative.
  • Ensure candle holders are placed on a stable surface and never leave lit candles unattended.
  • Only use lights which have been tested and labelled by a certified testing laboratory.
  • Always turn incandescent decorative lights for real trees off before leaving home or going to sleep. Certified timers can be used to preset ‘on’ and ‘off’ times.
  • Ensure electrical outlets are not overloaded with various devices.
  • When using gas fireplaces with young children present, consider providing a barrier to prevent physical contact as the glass front can reach over 300 degrees Celsius and takes 45 minutes to cool off.
  • Be sure that cooking is never left unattended.

Smoke alarms and fire escape planning

  • Ensure that working smoke alarms are provided on every level of your home and outside each sleeping area.
  • Test and clean smoke alarms regularly and change batteries at least twice a year.
  • Develop a fire escape plan, practice it regularly and have at least two ways out of your home.

Learn More:

Holiday emergency tips from Naomi Yamamoto, Minister of State for Emergency Preparedness:

EMBC works year-round with local governments to prepare for emergencies. For more information on how you and your family can get prepared, visit:

How to build an emergency kit:

Household preparedness guide:

Household emergency plan: