British Columbia Safety Authority

British Columbia Safety Authority

December 04, 2007 11:00 ET

Fire Prevention Essential for Safe and Happy Holidays

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Dec. 4, 2007) - As you prepare for the holiday season, the British Columbia Safety Authority wants to ensure you take the necessary steps to prevent electrical and gas fires in your home this winter. Christmas lights and gas meters need special attention.

"Indoor and outdoor lights are one of the most common causes of electrical fires during the holidays," said Stephen Hinde, Electrical Safety Manager for the BC Safety Authority. "We've seen Christmas trees and draperies catch fire - we've even seen houses burn down."

When decorating your home this holiday season, follow these simple steps to ensure your lights are safe:

- Ensure your lights are approved by a recognized certification body (see Information Bulletin B-E3 071019 3 on the BC Safety Authority website at Not all lights sold in stores are necessarily approved.

- Consider switching to LED lights, which generate much less heat than the traditional bulb style.

- Carefully inspect lights to ensure the cords and sockets are intact and in good condition. Cords on older light strings may crack over time.

- Avoid plugging too many light strings into the same socket, especially with traditional bulb-style lights. A general rule of thumb is no more than two or three strings to one socket. Check the equipment rating to be sure.

- Ensure lights are installed out of the reach of small children.

- Turn your lights on only when you're at home, or put the lights on a timer.

- Do not leave outdoor lights up year round. Lights that have been up all year will likely need to be replaced.

- When using extension cords outside, ensure they are made for outdoor use. Also ensure outdoor lights are plugged into a socket with a ground fault circuit interrupter.

Before you sit back and enjoy the twinkling lights, think about your gas meter outside and whether it is safe from the elements. Excessive snow and ice build-up can cause gas to accumulate and potential house fires.

- Install a temporary cover to prevent damage to the meter. It can be as simple as a plywood sheet leaning against the house to deflect falling snow.

- Clearly mark the location of the gas meter before removing snow from around the home. Do not bury the meter in snow and avoid ploughing into it with snow removal equipment.

- If your meter is encased in ice, call your local gas supplier.

For more information on electrical and gas safety, visit us at or for electrical and for gas.

The British Columbia Safety Authority is an independent, self-funded corporation that provides cost effective and essential safety services to business, industry and the general public throughout the province.

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