As the holidays draw near, more candles and strings of lights can be seen decorating households. However, they can also be a potential fire risk.

CTV News spoke with Assistant Fire Chief Wayne Rodger about some precautions people should take when getting ready for the holidays.

Extension Cords

“It’s that time of year again, and a lot more extension cords (will) come out now to power our Christmas lights and our displays,” Rodger said.

Before using a cord, he recommends making sure the cord isn’t frayed or damaged in any way, the ends plug in solidly, and the cord hasn’t been coiled.

“The longevity of a cord is based on its use – and abuse,” he said. “Check it out, make sure that there’s no cuts or scrapes or wearing of the cord.”

Christmas Lights

Rodger says whenever you leave the house or go out for the night, unplug your Christmas lights so they won’t be burning when no one is around.

He also recommends making sure to use indoor lights if they will be used indoors and outdoor lights if they will be used outdoors.

“An indoor light may not be waterproof and designed to be outside in the elements so that can cause some problems. And conversely, with an outdoor light, generally there’s lesser provisions for overheating because the temperatures are usually cooler,” he said.


Candles can provide a glow to some of the cold nights around the holidays, but if you’re going to be using them Rodger recommends developing a routine to make sure you’ve put them out when you’re no longer in the room.

“The reality is most fires start off with a flame about the size of a candle flame,” he said.

“We’ve been to enough fires with ‘I thought I put it out,’ but our investigator was pretty adamant that where that fire started was right where they had their candle.”

Real Christmas trees

As proven by a controlled burn by the Saskatoon Fire Department in 2015, it takes less than a minute for a Christmas tree to become engulfed with flames. The mock situation was based on faulty Christmas lights, but Rodger says greater risk comes with real Christmas trees as well.

“They’re a great addition to the festive season; the downside with natural Christmas trees is if they’re allowed to dry out they become quite combustible.”

Once the tree begins to dry out, Rodger said it takes less heat to ignite, because there’s less moisture in the tree.

He recommends making sure the tree is fresh when you buy it, by tapping it on the ground and seeing if needles are falling off. If so, the tree has already begun to dry out.

Additionally, when bringing the tree home, he suggests cutting a few inches off the stump of the tree, and placing it in water right away – and continually keeping it watered to avoid drying out.


Finally, Rodger says cooking and baking for the holidays is yet another thing that could potentially cause a fire.

“Our number one fire cause in the city of Saskatoon is unattended cooking. So if you’re doing up your Christmas baking, make sure you’re in the kitchen when you’re cooking,” he said.