Winter Fire Safety

The Township Fire and Emergency Services Department wants to ensure that all residents are safe throughout the four seasons. In the winter, there are special challenges to keeping resident's safe and protecting property. Special consideration should be made to fire safety regarding Christmas Trees, Lights and Electrical, Decorations, Fire Places, and Candle Safety.

Christmas Tree Safety

  • When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label "Fire Resistant." Although this label does not mean the tree won't catch fire, it does indicate the tree will resist burning and should extinguish quickly.
  • When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. A fresh tree is green; needles are hard to pull from branches and when bent between your fingers, needles do not break. The trunk butt of a fresh tree is sticky with resin, and when tapped on the ground, the tree should not lose many needles.
  • When setting up a tree at home, place it away from fireplaces and radiators. Because heated rooms dry live trees out rapidly, be sure to keep the stand filled with water. Place the tree out of the way of foot traffic and do not block doorways.
  • Tree disposal after the holidays: When you’re ready to get rid of your tree, please do not burn it in the fireplace or wood stove. The rapid burning and excessive heat can damage the firebox and chimney creating a serious fire hazard.

Lights and Electrical Safety

  • Indoors or outside, always use CSA approved lights. Check each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections, and throw out damaged sets.
  • Use no more than three standard-size sets of lights per single extension cord.
  • Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and a person touching a branch could be electrocuted.
  • Fasten outdoor lights securely to trees, house walls, or other firm supports to protect the lights from wind damage. Use only insulated staples, not nails or tacks, to hold strings in place. Or, run strings of lights through hooks (available at hardware stores).
  • Turn off all lights when you go to bed or leave the house. The lights could short out and start a fire.

Fireplace Safety

  • Do not remove fireplace embers or ash, or if you do, place them in a metal container with a lid and cover them with water. Do not place them in a plastic or paper bag or other container that is not fire-resistant. Do not dispose of them indoors or close to your home or another structure.
  • Use care with "fire salts," which produce colored flames when thrown on wood fires. They contain heavy metals that can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation and vomiting if eaten. Keep them away from children.
  • Do not burn wrapping papers in the fireplace. A flash fire may result as wrappings ignite suddenly and burn intensely.
  • Never burn gift wrappings, boxes, cartons, or other types of packing in the fireplace. They burn too rapidly and generate far too much heat.
  • Don't hang Christmas stockings from the mantel when the fireplace is in use.
  • Always use a screen in front of the fireplace to protect against flying sparks.
  • Never use gasoline or any other flammable liquids to start a fire.
  • Use only seasoned and dried wood.
  • Never leave the fire unattended or let it smoulder.
  • Clean the ashes regularly. Place the ashes in a metal container and store outside away from flammable materials.
  • Don't use Christmas trees for firewood

Decorations Safety

  • Use only non-combustible or flame-resistant materials to trim a tree. Choose tinsel or artificial icicles of plastic or non-leaded metals. Leaded materials are hazardous if ingested by children.
  • Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens. Always use non-flammable holders, and place candles where they will not be knocked down.
  • In homes with small children, take special care to avoid decorations that are sharp or breakable, keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children to avoid the child swallowing or inhaling small pieces, and avoid trimmings that resemble candy or food that may tempt a child to eat them.
  • Wear gloves to avoid eye and skin irritation while decorating with spun glass "angel hair." Follow container directions carefully to avoid lung irritation while decorating with artificial snow sprays.

Candle Safety

  • Extinguish candles when leaving the room or going to sleep. Keep lit candles away from items that can catch fire
  • Place candles in sturdy, burn-resistant containers that won’t tip over and are big enough to collect dripping wax.
  • Don’t place lit candles near windows, where blinds or curtains may close or blow over them.
  • Don’t use candles in high traffic areas where children or pets could knock them over.
  • Never let candles burn out completely. Extinguish them when they get to within two inches of the holder or decorative material.
  • Never leave children or pets alone in a room with lit candles.
  • Do not allow older children to light candles in their bedrooms. A forgotten candle or an accident is all it takes to start a fire.
  • During power outages, exercise caution when using candles as a light source. Many destructive fires start when potential fire hazards go unnoticed in the dark.
  • Never use a candle for light when fuelling equipment such as a camp fuel heater or lantern
  • Keep candle wicks short at all times. Trim the wick to one-quarter inch (6.4 mm).
  • Be wary of buying novelty candles. Avoid candles surrounded by flammable paint, paper, dried flowers, or breakable/meltable containers.
  • Extinguish taper and pillar candles when they burn to within two inches of the holder, and container candles before the last half-inch of wax begins to melt.
  • When buying or using novelty candles, try to determine if they pose a potential fire hazard (if they contain a combustible component for instance). If they do, or if you suspect that they might, inform your local fire department.
  • Use extreme caution when carrying a lit candle, holding it well away from your clothes and any combustibles that may be along your path.

Important Winter Tips

Ensure all entry/exits in your home are cleared from snow to ensure you can get out in case of a fire. Make sure all windows are not frozen in case you need to use these as an escape mechanism.

If there is a fire hydrant near your home you can assist the fire department by keeping the hydrant clear of snow so in the event it is needed, it can be located.

Municipal Contacts
Chief Administrative Officer (CAO)
Mary Ellen Greb
Phone: 519-485-0477 Ext. 225
Email: cao@swox.org
 
Clerk
Lisa VanderWallen
Phone: 519-485-0477 Ext. 223
Email: clerk@swox.org
 
Treasurer
Diane Larder
Phone: 519-485-0477 Ext. 224
Email: dlarder@swox.org
 
Revenue Officer
Stacy Weicker
Phone: 519-485-0477 Ext. 222
Email: revenueofficer@swox.org
 
Chief Building Official (CBO)
Aaron Stewardson
Phone: 519-485-0477 Ext. 229 
Email: cbo@swox.org
Building Inspector
Jason Brunt
Phone: 519-485-0477 Ext. 233
Email: jbrunt@swox.org
 
Administrative Assistant - Building
Deb Dawson
Phone: 519-485-0477 Ext. 228
Email: building@swox.org
 
Development Planner
Community and Strategic Planning Office,
County of Oxford

Ron Versteegen,
Phone: 519-539-9800 Ext. 3214
Email: rversteegen@oxfordcounty.ca
 
By-Law Enforcement Officer
Jason Brunt
Phone: 519-485-0477 Ext. 233
Email: jbrunt@swox.org
 
Drainage
Jason Brunt
Phone: 519-485-0477 Ext. 233
Email: jbrunt@swox.org
 
Treasurer
Diane Larder
Phone: 519-485-0477 Ext. 224
Email: dlarder@swox.org
 
Revenue Officer
Stacy Weicker
Phone: 519-485-0477 Ext. 222
Email: revenueofficer@swox.org
 
Payroll Administrator
Brooke Crane
Phone: 519-485-0477 Ext. 226
Email: payroll@swox.org
 
Administrative Assistant
Laura Pickersgill
Phone: 519-485-0477 Ext. 221
Email: generaladmin@swox.org
 
Fire Chief & CEMC
Jeff VanRybroeck
Phone: 519-485-0477 Ext. 257
Email: fireChief@swox.org
 
Works Superintendent
Bill Freeman
Phone: 519-485-0477 Ext. 260
Email: bfreeman@swox.org
 
Foreman
Larry Hughes
Phone: 519-485-0477 Ext. 258
Email: lhughes@swox.org
 
Lead Hand
Adam Prouse
Phone: 519-485-0477 Ext. 258
Email: aprouse@swox.org
 
Chief Administrative Officer
Mary Ellen Greb
Phone: 519-485-0477 Ext. 225
Email: cao@swox.org
 
Clerk
Lisa VanderWallen
Phone: 519-485-0477 Ext. 223
Email: clerk@swox.org
 
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