Kawartha Lakes fire chief urges community to be cautious this holiday season

By Lindsay Advocate

Fire truck

Kawartha Lakes fire chief Mark Pankhurst has a holiday wish and he needs our resident’s help to make it come true.

“I’m wishing for a fire-free holiday season this year,” stated chief Pankhurst.

While fire can happen anywhere, at anytime, it most often strikes when we let our guard down – when we’re distracted by the hustle and bustle of the holidays, by our cellphones, by the kids or by the doorbell. All it takes is for a pot to be left on the stove, or a candle left burning unattended and a family’s holiday celebrations can turn to tragedy.

“Never leave a cooking pot unattended on the stove,” continued chief Pankhurst “and consider using battery-operated or electric flameless candles.”

Smoking is another leading cause of fires during the holiday season. “Make sure smokers extinguish cigarettes in large deep ashtrays – not in plant pots which may contain peat moss or shredded bark that can easily ignite,” continued chief Pankhurst. “Ashes should be emptied in a metal container – not the garbage can – and put outside at least three metres (10 feet) from combustibles and buildings.”

The Kawartha Lakes Fire Rescue Service also reminds everyone to maintain working smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms in the home. Install smoke alarms on every storey of your home and outside all sleeping areas. CO alarms are required outside all bedrooms if you have a woodstove, attached garage, or fuel burning appliance. Test your smoke and CO alarms every month by pressing the test button and install new batteries or replace alarms if needed.

Enjoy a fire safe holiday season by following these tips:

– Always stay in the kitchen when something is cooking on the stove;

– Place lit candles away from anything that can burn and out of the reach of children and pets where they can’t be knocked over. Remember to snuff out candles before leaving the room or going to bed. Consider using battery-operated or electric flameless candles;

– Drink responsibly. Attempting to cook or smoke while under the influence of alcohol is too often a contributing factor in fatal fires;

– Make sure the base of real Christmas tree is immersed in water at all times, to prevent them from getting too dry;

– Check all sets of decorative lights before putting them up and discard any sets that are damaged;

– Develop and practice a home fire escape plan so that everyone in your home knows what to do if the smoke or CO alarms sound.

For more information on fire prevention, please contact Anana Erwood, fire prevention inspector and public educator at or 705-324-5731.

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