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Christmas lights, deep-fried turkeys: Salmon Arm firefighter warns of hazards

Tips offered for staying fire-free during Christmas and ice-cold season
Salmon Arm firefighter urges residents to water Christmas trees and turn off Christmas lights when people are not near the tree. (hunt-er/Pixabay photo)

Strange as it may seem, frozen pipes, deep-fried turkeys and Christmas lights have at least one thing in common.

All three come up under the topic of safety at this time of year – safety at Christmas, safety during freezing temperatures.

Carmen Guidos, a fire prevention specialist with the Salmon Arm Fire Department, offers several suggestions.

If you have a Christmas tree, keep it well watered. And don’t leave Christmas tree lights on when you’re not around.

“That is a huge source of house fires,” he said.

If you’re burning candles, make sure you’re safe. Factors such as wrapping paper, pets and excited children can lead to a candle being knocked over. Don’t leave candles burning, he says; make sure they’re extinguished if you leave a room.

Then there are deep-fried turkeys, which appear to be gaining in popularity.

“I’ve heard quite a few people are doing it – they say it tastes absolutely glorious,” smiled Guidos.

However, a word of caution.

Guidos urges chefs to make sure the bird is thawed before it’s placed in the hot oil.

If it’s not, ice in the turkey will turn to steam, which expands and rises, blowing the boiling oil out of the pot. If the hot oil lands on a flame or burner, it can start a fast-moving and dangerous fire.

The deep-frying pot should be kept well away from the house, he adds.

If a fire does start in your home, for whatever reason, don’t hesitate to call the fire department. Fires can grow quickly and they suddenly may be bigger than you can deal with, says Guidos.

He also urges residents to make sure you know where your home fire extinguisher is, as well as if it’s charged and ready to go. And, again, it’s better to call the fire department than risk a bigger fire.

‘Personal safety is more important than property safety.”

Read more: Rotary clubs in Salmon Arm step up again to provide Christmas dinners for all

In terms of the extreme cold Salmon Arm is experiencing, Guidos offers another tip.

If your pipes freeze, don’t use open flame to thaw them. Guidos suggests using a hair dryer or heat gun, depending on how badly they’re frozen.

As for city infrastructure, “so far so good,” is how Rob Niewenhuizen, the city’s director of engineering and public works, describes its response to freezing temperatures.

“We have had one water service break in the Hillcrest area which has now been repaired,” he said.

However, the weather causes concern in terms of icy road conditions and the fact the city’s snow removal equipment is more prone to breakdowns in the extreme cold.

A couple of plumbers in Salmon Arm say mobile homes can be susceptible to frozen pipes.

Cory Smith, owner of TradeSmith Mechanical Services, said the water lines to trailers are usually wrapped by heat trace and insulation, and it’s important to check that the heat trace works.

He said main lines in general can be susceptible to freezing if they come in under a set of stairs or by an outside wall. A little electric heater can help keep a pipe warm.

Keeping a trickle of cold water running can also be effective in keeping a pipe from freezing.

He, too, favours a hair dryer for thawing pipes, although it could take a half hour or so. Any longer, he suggests giving him a call.

At Aspire Plumbing & Heating, staff agree with keeping a trickle of water running, as well as ensuring heat tape on trailer water lines is working.

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Martha Wickett

About the Author: Martha Wickett

came to Salmon Arm in May of 2004 to work at the Observer. I was looking for a change from the hustle and bustle of the Lower Mainland, where I had spent more than a decade working in community newspapers.
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