VICTORIA – With the holidays almost here, the Office of the Fire Commissioner has some fire and life safety advice to help ensure a happy and fire-safe holiday season for all British Columbians.

Decorating

* Keep trees, wrapping paper, decorations and other things that can catch fire away from heat sources.

* Ensure a real tree stays fresh and green by watering it daily. Get rid of the tree after the holidays or when it has dried out.

* Choose flame-retardant or non-combustible decorations and only use lights that have been tested and labelled by a certified testing laboratory. Consider energy-efficient LED lighting, which produces less heat and poses less of a fire risk.

* Turn off all light strings and decorations before leaving home or going to bed.

* Ensure electrical outlets are not overloaded.

Cooking safety

* Have a “kid-free zone” of at least one metre around the stove and areas where hot food or drink is prepared or carried.

* Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.

* If you are simmering, baking, roasting or boiling food, check it regularly. Remain in the home while food is cooking and use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.

* Never pour water on a grease fire. On the stove top, smother the flames by sliding a lid over the pan and turning off the burner. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.

* For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed. After a fire, the oven should be checked and/or serviced before being used again.

Candle safety

* Blow out lit candles when you leave the room or go to bed.

* Use candle holders that are sturdy and will not tip over easily, and put candle holders on a sturdy, uncluttered surface. Battery-operated candles are an excellent alternative.

* Keep children and pets away from lit candles.

Smoke alarms and fire escape planning

* Ensure working smoke alarms are installed on every level of the 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, practise it regularly and have at least two ways out of a home. Remember to share this emergency plan with guests as well.

* Make sure holiday decorations do not block any exits.