HRC Insurance Blog

Holiday Fire Safety

   The holidays are approaching and each year hospital emergency rooms treat thousands of people for injuries. These injuries involve falls, cuts, and shocks related to holiday lights, decorations, and Christmas trees. In addition, Christmas trees are involved in hundreds of fires each year. These fires can result in injuries, and property loss and damage. Keep you and your family safe this holiday season by following these safety tips.



  • Check all sets of lights before decorating. Check the cords closely and discard any sets that are frayed or damaged.
  • Always use CSA approved lights, whether the lights are being used inside or out.
  • Do not use electric lights strands on metallic trees. The tree could become charged with electricity if the lights are faulty. A person touching the tree could be electrocuted.
  • Use no more than 3 standard set of lights per extension cord.
  • Always turn off the lights before going to bed or leaving the house.
  • Fasten outdoor lights securely to house walls, trees, or any other solid supports. Only use insulated staples or by running the set of lights through hooks.
  • It is never a good idea to connect different types of lights. For example, plugging in LED lights into incandescent lights.



  • Always keep candles away from the tree and out of reach from children and pets.
  • Choose decorations that are flame-retardant, non-combustible and non-conductive.
  • Do not use metallic ornaments on the tree. If they come in contact with defective wiring they could become a shock hazard.
  • In a house with small children, take special care to avoid decorations that are sharp or breakable, keep trimmings with small removable parts out of reach from small children to avoid choking.


Christmas Trees

  • When purchasing an artificial Christmas tree, look for the label “fire resistant”. This does not mean it will not catch fire but it does indicate the tree will resist burning and should extinguish quickly.
  • When purchasing a live tree check for freshness. You want a tree that is green; needles that are hard to pull from the branches and when bent between your fingers the needles do not break.  The tree truck should be sticky with sap, and when tapped on the ground the tree should not loose many needles.
  • When setting up the tree, place it away from any heat sources.
  • Place the tree in a stand that holds two to three litres of water and top it up daily. If the water drops below the trunk, the stem may reseal itself, requiring a new cut.


The Kitchen

  • Grease and fat fires are the leading cause of home fires in Canada, so be extra careful when doing this kind of cooking. Here is what to do if grease in a pot catches fire:
  1. Smother the flames by covering the pan with the lid;
  2. Turn off the heat immediately;
  3. Use baking soda on shallow grease fires. Do not use flour;
  4. Never turn on the overhead fan, as this could spread the fire
  5. Never throw water on a grease fire
  • Be alert. If you have consumed alcohol or are sleepy don’t use the stove or stove top.
  • Do not leave the kitchen while you are cooking food. With family over this holiday season things can get hectic, use a timer to remind yourself that you are cooking.
  • Keep cooking surfaces clutter-free and children out of the kitchen.


Staying Warm

  • Consider replacing old space heaters with newer models which turn off automatically when tipped over or overheat.
  • Use a barrier to keep children and pets away from the gas or wood burning fireplaces.
  • Never burn gift wrap, boxes, cartons, or other types of packaging in the fireplace.
  • Do not hang Christmas stockings from the mantel when the fireplace is in use.
  • Only use dry and seasoned wood.
  • Clean the ashes regularly. Place the aches in a mental container with a lid. Always store the mental container outside and away from flammable materials.
  • Do not use Christmas trees for firewood.
  • Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
  • Be sure all furnace controls and emergency shutoffs are in proper working condition.


Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

  • With friends and family over for the holidays, it’s a great time to check your smoke alarms. Replace smoke alarms if over 10 years old and remember that one smoke alarm on each floor and outside all sleeping areas is required.
  • Make sure you have working carbon monoxide alarms. Replace them after 7 years.
  • Make sure everyone knows how to get out of the house safely in case of a fire. 

Since the 1900's...

Born under the name George Hutcheson, Hutcheson, Reynolds & Caswell Ltd. began providing insurance policies in Muskoka since the early 1900s. Bernard Reynolds joined the firm in the 1940s and purchased the firm from George Hutcheson in 1967. Finally, in 1980, David Caswell joined the company's ranks to complete Hutcheson, Reynolds and Caswell. We have grown along with our name and provide the same dedication to superior customer service and top-notch insurance coverage that George Hutcheson was famous for over 100 years ago.