Fire Safety in Your Home
Here are some important tips for fire safety at home.
Preparing and practicing a fire escape plan will help you act quickly if there’s a fire in your home – it could even save your life. Download and print the Fire Escape Plan Template for your family to help plan your safe escape.
- Plan two ways out of each bedroom – a main exit (usually the door) and an alternate, such as a window. The second exit must be practical and easy to use.
- Know that when the smoke alarm sounds, you have approximately three minutes to safely escape.
- Establish a meeting place outside, a safe distance from the house. This helps you to account for everyone and lets firefighters know if anyone is still inside.
- Do not assume young children, the elderly and the disabled will be awakened by smoke alarms. They should be assisted by an adult during a fire emergency.
- Hold a fire drill in your home twice a year - during the day, but also at night. Place the “fire” in different locations. Press the test button on your smoke alarm to start your fire drill. This will ensure everyone knows the sound of the smoke alarm, and knows what to do in a real emergency.
Cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires and home fire injuries in Canada. Most of these fires can be prevented by following simple fire safety steps.
Steps you can take to prevent cooking fires
- Never leave cooking unattended.
Two out of five deaths in home cooking fires occur because the cooking was unattended.
- Keep the cooking area clean.
Always wipe appliances and surfaces after cooking to prevent grease buildup.
- Do not store combustible objects near the stove.
Curtains, potholders, dish towels, and food packaging can easily catch fire.
- Always turn pot handles inward.
Turning handles toward the centre of the stove can prevent pots from being knocked off the stove or pulled down by small children.
- Wear short or close-fitting sleeves when cooking.
Fires can occur when clothing comes in contact with stovetop burners.
- Do not overheat cooking oil.
Cooking oil can easily start a fire. Never leave hot oil or grease-laden foods unattended.
- Teach Children about safe cooking.
Young children should be kept at least one metre away from the stove while older family members are cooking. Older children should cook only with permission and under the supervision of a grown up. Tell children of the potential dangers, particularly of unattended cooking.
What to do if a cooking fire starts
Pan fire: Put a lid on it ...
- If a pan catches fire, carefully slide a lid over the pan using an oven mitt, and turn off the stove burner. Leave the lid on until completely cool. Do not carry the burning pan to a sink or outside. Movement may cause the fire to grow, or cause hot grease to spill and cause burns.
Oven or microwave: Keep the door shut and turn off the heat ...
- If flames do not go out immediately, call the fire department. Opening the oven or microwave door allows oxygen to the fire and increases the potential for the fire to spread beyond the appliance.
Never pour water on a grease fire ...
- Water causes grease fires to flare and spread.
- Always keep a fire extinguisher at the kitchen door.
- Know how to use it. Only use it if you have a clear escape route and the fire department has been called first.
Along with Fort McMurray winters comes big sweaters, cozy blankets and lots of laundry! Keep in mind that thicker clothing increases the amount of lint that can be left behind in your dryer. The leading cause of home clothes dryer fires is failure to properly clean them. Follow these fire prevention tips to ensure your clothes are being dried — not burned!
- Ensure to clean the lint filter before and after each use. Never use a dryer without the lint filter in place.
- Inspect the air exhaust vent pipe to ensure is is not obstructed and the outdoor vent flap opens readily.
- Always have your dryer installed and serviced by a professional. Ensure that it is plugged into an outlet suitable for its electrical needs.
- Never leave a dryer running when you are not home or have gone to bed.
- Do not overload your dryer.
- Keep combustible materials away from the dryer.
- Gas dryers should be inspected by a professional to ensure that the gasoline and connections are intact and leak-free.
To save lives and minimize property damage, the fire safety features of your apartment or condominium building must be inspected and maintained.
Alarms, Emergency Lighting, and Sprinkler Systems
Know who is responsible for maintaining these important safety systems in your building. Make sure that nothing blocks or otherwise interferes with such devices, and promptly report any sign of damage or malfunction to building management.
Never lock fire exits or block doorways, halls, or stairways. Fire doors not only provide a way out during a fire, they also slow the spread of fire and smoke. Never prop fire doors open.
You are far more likely to do the right thing in a real fire if you are prepared for an emergency.
- Learn your building's evacuation plans. Make sure everyone in your household knows where to go if the fire alarm sounds and practice your escape plan together. Be sure your building manager posts evacuation plans in high traffic common areas, such as lobbies.
- Learn the sound of your building's fire alarm.
- Know at least two escape routes (including windows) from every room in your apartment or condominium.
- In the event of a fire, you may have to escape in the dark by feeling your way along the wall. Be prepared. Count the number of doors between your living unit and the two nearest building exits.
- Know where to find your building's fire alarms, and learn how to use them.
If Fire Breaks Out
- Evacuation procedures for high-rise buildings are similar to those for other buildings, but with large numbers of people evacuating at the same time, some of them from upper floors.
- If you discover a fire, sound the alarm and call the fire department.
- If you can hear instructions over your building's public address system, listen carefully and do as you are told. You might be told to stay where you are.
- Leave the fire area quickly, closing all doors behind you to slow the spread of fire and smoke.
- Follow your building's evacuation plan to the letter, unless doing so puts you in immediate danger. If you encounter smoke or flames, use an alternative escape route. Some evacuation plans may require you to go to a "safe area" inside the building and wait for the fire department to supervise evacuation.
- If you must escape through smoke crawl low. Heat and smoke rise.
- Test doors before you open them. Kneeling or crouching, reach up as high as you can and touch the door, the knob, and the space between the door and its frame with the back of your hand. If the door is hot, use an alternative escape route.
- If the door feels cool, open it carefully and be ready to slam it shut if smoke or heat rush in.
- Never use an elevator during a fire. It may stop at a floor where the fire is burning or malfunction and trap you. Go directly to a stairwell that's free of smoke and flame.
- Once you are out, stay out, and stay out of the way of firefighters. Tell the fire department if you know of anyone trapped in the building. Do not go back inside for any reason, until the firefighters tell you it is safe to do so.
If you are Trapped
- Never try to fight even a small fire until the alarm system has been activated, evacuation has begun, and the fire department has been called.
- When using an extinguisher, always have a clear escape route at your back. If the fire doesn't die down immediately or starts to spread, leave at once.
- Stay calm. There are many things you can do to protect yourself.
- If possible, go to a room with an outside window and a telephone.
- Close the door between you and the fire. Stuff the cracks around the door with towels, rags, or bedding and cover vents to keep the smoke out of the room.
- If there's a phone in the room where you're trapped, call the fire department and tell them exactly where you are. Do this even if you can see fire trucks on the street below.
- Wait at the window and signal for help with a flashlight, if you have one, or by waving a sheet or other light-colored cloth.
- If possible, open the window at the top and bottom, but do not break the window.
- Be ready to close the window quickly if smoke rushes in.
Fort McMurray winters bring bitter cold temperatures. Stay safe while using portable heaters, furnaces and fireplaces by following safety precautions to ensure that your home is not heated because of a fire. (You can download a printable version of the following Staying Safe While Staying Warm tips.)
Portable Space Heaters
- When purchasing a portable heater ensure that it has been certified by a recognized regulatory body, such as the Canadian Standards Association (CSA).
- Space heaters should be placed on a level, hard and non-flammable surface (avoid carpets or rugs).
- Ensure the space heater is placed 1 metre from any flammable objects, such as curtains, bedding or blankets.
- Do not leave children or pets unattended around a space heater.
- Always turn off space heaters before leaving the room or going to bed.
- Ensure your space heater is equipped with an automatic cut-off device. This will shut off the heater if tipped over.
- Fuel burning space heaters (kerosene or gas) should be inspected annually. Ensure you are using the proper grade of fuel source for your unit and that it is cleaned regularly.
- Furnaces should be inspected by a qualified and registered contractor at least once a year.
- Keep the area around your furnace clear.
- Each month, inspect your furnace for the following:
- Filter: Change and/or clean according to manufacturer’s instructions.
- Vents: Look for any signs of rust, blockages or soot. If found, consult with a qualified technician.
- Gas Burners – The flame should be blue. If the flame is yellow, consult with a qualified technician
- Inspect and clean your fireplaces, vents and chimneys regularly.
- Check for rust or creosote, which is a dark substance that forms in the flue. If a buildup of creosote is made, it can catch fire.Observe any excessive heat on the walls above your fireplace. This could be a sign of improper chimney installation, and a potential for fire hazard.
- Keep combustible objects away from your wood stove or fireplace and always use a properly fitted screen to cover the fireplace opening. Floors and walls should be protected with noncombustible shields.
- Keep a heat-tempered glass or metal fireplace screen in place.
- Dispose of fireplace ashes in a closed metal can and stored outside.
- Burn only dry, seasoned wood and never use flammable liquid to start the fire.
- Chimneys and vents need to be cleaned and inspected by a qualified professional at least once a year.