12/02/2014 05:35 EST | Updated 02/01/2015 05:59 EST

Christmas fire risk: as decorations go up, make sure your home is safe

The risk of a house fire goes up as the weather drops into freezing temperatures, and people bring out the space heaters, or light the fireplace or wood stove.

Add Christmas lights to the mix, and the result can be devastating. Just this weekend, two houses were severely damaged by fire in Kelowna, B.C..

One of the fires started when a butane heater leaked and burned the house down. Another left several people homeless in the city's Glenmore neighbourhood.

The CBC's Daybreak South spoke to RickEuper with the Kelowna Fire Department to get his advice on preventing a fire in your home during the Christmas season:

1. Check your fireplace and chimney

"You make sure that the chimney is cleaned and inspected before you use it...The big thing is inspecting that chimney — make sure the liner's intact — because that's where we run into an issue. 

"If we have a chimney fire if the liner's been cracked or compromised [the fire] actually leaves the chimney or gets into the structure of the house."

2. Keep your Christmas tree green

"Make sure you water it, don't let it turn brown. Once [it's brown] it's just like having a candle stick in there ready to go.

"Some people, still to this day, like to use burning candles close to [the tree] or some even use [candles] as a decoration on the tree, so be very careful with that."

3. Check cords and Christmas lights for breaks or exposure of wires

"We've got now to LED lighting so our wattage being used and the amps coming through that are a lot lower, so I think we're going to see a trend and maybe a lot less problems — but there's still conversion units in there and they do cause a problem."

To hear more from Rick Euper, click on the audio clip labelled: Rick Euper's fire safety tips for the holidays