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Protect your home during the holidays

Holiday season is right around the corner. It’s the most wonderful time of the year— so the last thing you need is the festive spirit spoiled by a potential fire hazard, like candles, lights or garlands above fireplaces, becoming a nightmare scenario. 

Let’s face it: your home is your castle and you want to protect it like you’re Kevin McCallister in Home Alone. So here are 12 safety tips to check before you get your pad looking festive for the season.

1. Cook safely

Every cook knows that the holidays offer a series of happy distractions. Your meals often take longer if you’ve got guests popping by to bring festive cheer. Just watch your open flames — kitchen fires can break out when you leave your cooking and baking unattended. So always make sure that someone’s in the kitchen, especially if you’re using oil or cooking at high temperatures. 

If your pot or pan catches fire, you can smother the flames by carefully sliding a tight-fitting lid over the pot, then safely turn off the heat. Make sure you’ve got a fire extinguisher in the kitchen, too. There are special types of fire extinguishers for kitchens that differ from others. Learn how to choose the right one here.

2. Inspect your cords

Before you decorate your window or tree with festive electric lights, have a good look at your light cords. Are they frayed or damaged? Time to replace them. You can usually recycle old string lights and electronics near you. Here’s a list of recycling centres in BC. Meantime, if you’re using an extension cord, use it wisely. Only use them as a temporary connection. Never tuck an extension cord under your rug as this can damage your cord and cause a fire. 

Woman holding string of Christmas lights, with a decorated tree outside in the background.

3. Flames and fireplace safety

If you have a wood-burning fireplace, it’s a good idea to hire a chimney sweep to reduce the chance of a chimney fire. You'll also want to keep your Christmas gifts and boxes at least three feet away from your fireplace as they’re highly combustible. 

Watch that your stockings don’t hang near the fire. Always use your safety screen and keep a fire extinguisher nearby just in case. And don’t toss garbage or wrapping paper in the fire. There are additives in wrapping paper that make it burn at extremely high temperatures.

4. Before you go out, blow out

Candles always set the perfect tone for holiday celebrations. Remember to always blow out all your candles before you leave the room, leave your home or head to bed  so be sure to set yourself a reminder. 

Keep lit candles away from children, pets and anything flammable like your holiday decorations, tree, curtains and upholstery. Make sure you store lighters and matches somewhere safe. Ensure they are safely kept where children cannot access.

Menorah Candles

5. Space heaters need space

Are you keeping the chill off with a space heater? They make for a toasty warm space, but they can also be intensely hot. Space your heater at least one metre away from anything that could catch fire like your curtains, upholstery, blankets and holiday decorations.

6. Tend to your tree

You’ve no doubt heard the expression “it lit up like a Christmas tree.” If you’re bringing home a real tree for the holidays, place it away from anything that could set it on fire like your fireplace, heating vents, radiators, stoves, burning candles or base heaters. Keep your tree moist and avoid it drying out by standing the base of the tree trunk in a tray of water at all times.

Hanging Ornaments on a Christmas Tree

7. Create and share a safety plan

Even during the festive season, sometimes accidents, or even storms, happen. Just in case you need to get out of the house quickly and safely, it's good to have a family escape plan. You can easily create one for your home – we recommend following our BCAA escape plan checklist.

8. Welcome guests safely

You’ll likely have friends and family visiting during the holidays, so there are a few ways to make everyone safe. Make sure your sidewalks, paths and driveways are clear of ice. Set up good outdoor lighting so your guests can enter and leave without stumbling around in the dark. Lay down welcome mats to absorb boot slush so people don’t slip on their way in or out. 

Inside your home, tuck away electrical cords and other tripping hazards. Remove all choking hazards if your guests include children. During your party, keep drinking in check by offering water and non-alcoholic beverages. To prevent drinking and driving (which you can be held liable for), set your guests up with a taxi or ride share, or invite them to sleep over.

9. Outdoor lights and displays

If you love to light up your yard, patios and balconies during the holidays, use lights that are clearly marked 'for outdoor use’. Indoor lights aren’t insulated from moisture and should not be used outdoors. If you’re climbing a ladder, get a spotter to help keep it sturdy, as ladder falls are a frequent emergency room injury during the holidays. 

Don’t hang lights on nails or screws as they can puncture the lights. Instead, secure the lights with light clips you get from a hardware store. If you can’t access an outdoor electrical outlet, it’s best not to run the lights through windows or doors. Consider hanging lights inside the window which can look just as nice and festive.

House with Holiday Lights in the Snow

10. Check your detectors

Keep everyone safe by checking your detectors (you should have smoke detectors on every story of your home and outside each bedroom). Replace your smoke alarms when they turn 10 years old and your carbon monoxide alarm when it’s seven years old. Here’s how to test your alarms.

11. How to wrap up your holidays 

To preserve your lights for next year, neatly pack them amidst soft fabrics to protect the light bulbs from shattering. Stash all your decorations away in clearly marked boxes and see how much wrapping paper you can re-use for next year.

If you’ve got a live tree, it’s time to say goodbye when the needles drop. Dried-out trees are flammable so don’t leave them in your garage or propped against a building. Check with your community’s composting program for their tree pick-up or drop-off dates and locations or find a local tree chip-up fundraising event.

Holiday Decorations Ready for the Season

12. All is calm, all is bright

As you light up your winter holiday nights, get peace of mind with BCAA Home Insurance. To get a quick quote today, visit

There’s many ways to save on BCAA Home Insurance! Save 5% when you buy online. Plus, BCAA Members automatically save 10% on BCAA Home Insurance, and you’ll save an extra 1% (up to 10%) for every consecutive year you’ve had your home insurance with us.*

BCAA paid out on average 95% of home insurance claims related to fire, water, weather and theft.**

Rest easy with BC's Most Trusted Insurance Brand*** and have a safe and jolly holiday season!


Home Insurance is sold through B.C.A.A. Holdings Ltd. dba BCAA Insurance Agency, a licensed insurance agency, and underwritten by BCAA Insurance Corporation.

*BCAA Member savings on insurance products are only available with Basic, Plus, or Premier Membership plans. For full details, please visit

**From 2019 to 2020, BCAA paid out on average 95% of home insurance claims related to fire, water, weather and theft. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.

***BCAA, in association with CAA, was chosen as the #1 Most Trusted Insurance Brand by British Columbia participants in the 2023 Gustavson Brand Trust Index.