MAKE FIRE SAFETY PART OF YOUR HOLIDAY PREPARATION

This holiday season, the Prince Edward County Fire Department and Fire Prevention Officer Michael Branscombe urge you to treat fire with respect. Every year, the joy of the holiday season is marred by tragic fire deaths.

"Before the festivities begin, test your smoke alarms and review your fire escape plan with your family and guests. Don't invite disaster to your holiday celebrations. Make sure every level of the home has a working smoke alarm. Just take a few life-saving minutes to protect yourself and your family.

Here are some fire safety tips for you, your family and friends:

  • Make sure your cut tree is fresh, and keep the stand full of water at all times
  • At home or at work, make sure your tree doesn't block a doorway
  • Check all decorative lights before placing them on the tree and discard any frayed or damaged lights and cords
  • Keep your Christmas tree away from all heat sources and never place lighted candles on or near the tree When large amounts of needles begin to fall off, it's time to get rid of the tree
  • Don't burn wrapping paper or ribbons
  • Always use a fireplace screen
  • Make sure candles are in secure holders and place them out of the reach of children
  • Ensure that there is a properly installed and working smoke alarm next to each and every sleeping area in your home
  • Test your smoke alarms to make sure they are in good working order and change the batteries, if necessary
  • Ensure all members of your household know two ways out of every room
  • Make sure the fire extinguisher is kept in an accessible place and the owner knows how to use properly. Every home, camper and trailer should have a fire extinguisher.

Pet-proofing your Christmas tree this year

Avoid tinsel. Cats find it delicious and fun to chew, but it can cause serious damage to their digestive systems.

That pan of water that is keeping your tree from drying out can be very attractive to thirsty pets. But that sticky water can also make them very sick. Discourage drinking by cutting a piece of screen or other sturdy mesh fabric to fit and duct tape it over the pan. This will keep little tongues out while still allowing you to replenish the water supply.

Cats love to bat balls around -- especially bright, shiny ones that are attached to a Christmas tree. Prevent breakage and possible injury by decorating your tree with plastic or wooden ornaments.

That little metal stand that is holding your tree in the vertical position is no match for a rowdy pet with a running start. Get rid of it and invest in a large, sturdy tree stand. For extra protection, attach a string of fishing line from the top of the tree to a small hook in the ceiling.

Puppies like to chew on things and those lower limbs of your Christmas tree may prove irresistible even to the best-behaved little dog. Surrounding your tree with a baby pen might not be the most attractive solution, but is surely the safest. Otherwise, don't allow your puppy to be alone in the same room as the Christmas tree.

To discourage chewing on your light cords, spray them with bitter apple. Unplug the lights when not in use.

Clean up fallen needles regularly. Some dogs will eat just about anything and these sharp pine needles can cause internal injuries if ingested.

Don't decorate with edible ornaments. If it smells like food, a determined pet will find a way to reach it.

The Prince Edward County Fire Department even has the perfect Christmas gift idea for those hard to buy for folks. This year put smoke alarms or portable fire extinguishers on your gift list for family and friends.

What better way to show you care than to give a gift that can save a life?

Jason Young is with Lanthorn Real Estate Ltd. in Picton, ON.

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