The holidays are a time for family, fun and friends, but all of that can change when fire strikes. Every year during the holidays, the fire department responds to numerous calls due to property loss or damage from fires that could have been prevented. Read on to find out how you and your family can practise safe holiday fire techniques to minimize your chances of being a victim of fire during what should be the year’s most festive time. 

Christmas Tree Fire Prevention

Although Christmas tree fires are not common, when they do occur, they are likely to be serious.

  • Cut two diagonal inches off the tree stem and mount your tree in a stable, wide-base reservoir stand
  • Keep your tree at least three feet away from heat sources like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents, or lights
  • Make sure your tree is not blocking any exits
  • Never put lit candles on your tree or near any combustible decorations
  • Check for falling needles; if your tree is dry and brittle, remove it from your home immediately
  • Never burn your tree in a fireplace or wood stove
  • Add water to your tree stand daily

Christmas Tree Safety Tips

To dispose safely of your tree, either cut it to fit in your yard trimmings container for weekly pick-up or bring it to the annual Lions Club Chip Up or Scouts Chip Up, held each year during early January. 


Keep your home safe this holiday season by using care and caution with candles.

  • always monitor open flames and candles, especially if children or pets are present
  • keep candles away from curtains, decorations, clothing, windows and drafts
  • cut candle wicks short to prevent high flame
  • extinguish all candles when leaving the room 


  • choose decorations that are flame resistant or retardant
  • replace any strings of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections
  • use clips, not nails, to hang lights so the cords do not get damaged
  • turn off light strings before leaving a room or going to bed
  • Inspect light strings for wear, breaks, or loose light connections. Replace as required. Read manufacturer's instructions for maximum number of light strands to connect.
  • some holiday lights are for indoor or outdoor use, but not both. Check the label.
  • keep lit candles away from decorations

Smoke Alarms

Smoke alarms give your family an early warning of smoke and fire. Plan and practise your home fire escape plan to ensure a fire-safe holiday for your family and guests. Consider giving the life-saving gift of a smoke alarm this holiday season.

Carbon Monoxide Safety

Carbon monoxide is an invisible, odourless, colourless gas created when fuels burn incompletely. A person can be poisoned by a small amount of CO over a long period or by a large amount of CO over a short period.

  • Install a CO detector in a central location outside each sleeping area and on every level of your home.
  • Never start a vehicle, lawnmower or other gasoline-powered tools inside a garage, even with the garage doors open.
  • Have a qualified technician inspect chimneys and vents on an annual basis.

Winter Holiday Safety


West Vancouver Fire & Rescue


Fire-free Christmas

Here are some more ways for you and your family to have fire-free holiday:

  • Always supervise children around open flames
  • Keep gift wrap and decorations away from heat sources
  • Do not hang Christmas stockings directly above the fire
  • Never use octopus plugs
  • Make sure all of your Christmas lights have been tested
  • Turn off all of your Christmas lights before going to bed

Report a fire

Call 9-1-1 immediately to report a fire.

Indicate where the fire is located, provide a description of what is on fire, who is trapped or in danger, how the fire started and any additional details: odour, smoke, flames.