Burns: Winter Safety

Family reading beside a fireplace
How to keep children safe from burn injuries during the holiday season

Most burn injuries are preventable. 

Most burns occur during winter. Here are tips on how to prevent burns around the home.


Fireplaces can get very hot. Gas fireplaces get hot quickly. Keep your child away from fireplaces. Always use a fire screen. Never leave your child alone near a fireplace.

Carbon monoxide

Carbon monoxide is a colourless and odorless gas that can cause poisoning and even death. Install a carbon monoxide detector to protect your family. Natural gas appliances such as furnaces, water heaters, dryers and fireplaces need ventilation to avoid carbon monoxide buildup. Do not place objects that might restrict airflow on or near these appliances. If you have concerns, call your gas company. 

Extension cords

Extension cords can get hot. Keep items that can catch fire away from them or a fire could start. Keep your child away from extension cords. Never run these cords inside walls, or under rugs or furniture. 

Christmas trees

Christmas trees can catch fire when they are dried out. Keep your tree away from candles, fireplaces, heating vents, TVs and other sources of heat. Keep your tree watered. Throw it out when it starts turning brown or dries out. Use decorations that will not burn and are flame resistant. 

Open flame

Open flames can be as hot as 1400°C and cause major burns in seconds. Keep candles away from your child and any items that could catch fire. Place candles in stable candle holders that are large enough to collect dripping wax. 

Decorative lighting 

Lighting can cause fire and burns. Always check light strings for wear or damage before using them. Replace worn sets. Look for the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) or equivalent label from your country. This label means the lights were tested for fire hazards. If you can, use LED lights that create much less heat.

Key points

  • Keep your child away from any source of heat especially fireplaces and open flames
  • Eliminate any fire hazard by protecting extension cords and disposing of a dried out Christmas tree.
  • Protect your whole family from carbon monoxide poisoning by installing a carbon monoxide detector
Charis Kelly, RN(EC), MN

Grant, E.J. (2004). Burn Prevention. Critical Care Nursing Clinics of North America, 16, 127-138.