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Fire prevention for your home or cottage

Prevent kitchen fires

Adding an ounce of prevention in the kitchen makes the perfect recipe for home fire safety

Statistics collected in Canada from 2002 to 2005 show that 38 per cent of the fires were attributed to cooking equipment, resulting in 430 fatalities and 4,600 injuries. This clearly shows that the main ingredient in your kitchen is fire safety and prevention.

Here a few tips and important points to make both your kitchen and home safe.

Tip #1 – Keep an eye on the oven and stove

  • When you’re cooking, never leave the kitchen and pay attention to what you have in the oven or on the stove.

Tip #2 – Where there’s no air, there’s no flame

  • Keep an oven mitt and lid nearby the stove
  • Should a small pan fire occur, use the oven mitt to grab the lid to slide over the pan – smothering the flame.
  • Once the lid is in place, turn the stove element to the off position.
  • If a fire occurs in the oven, leave the door closed and shut off the element.

Definite don’ts with a small pan fire

  • Never move a burning pan. You risk the chance of your clothing catching on fire
  • Never place a burning pan in the sink filled with water. When in contact with some burning products – such as cooking oil – water can increase the size of the flames and possibly spreading the fire.
  • Keep dish towels or cloths away from any elements and never us them as splatter protectors on the stove.

Important life-saving tip: If your clothes catch fire, drop to the floor and roll.

Farm fires

Each year in Canada, there are approximately 800 fire-related deaths. Many of these occur on farms.

Fires on farms pose a special threat because most farmers are far from fire-fighting equipment and lack the water needed to extinguish fires. The economic and personal losses are severe and proportionally higher than those from fires in urban areas.

Fire-emergency Procedure

  1. When a fire breaks out in a house or farm building, everyone must be evacuated from the building immediately. Normal exits may be blocked, so you must have emergency exits.
  2. Close all the doors and windows as you escape the fire; failure to do so may cause air drafts which will fan the fire.
  3. When everyone is out of the building, call Ottawa Fire Services. Give them your name, address, and the exact location of the fire.
  4. Never allow anyone to re-enter a burning building.

Safety Rules

  • Never permit smoking in barns or near any flammable materials.
  • Never refuel engines inside a building or while the engine is hot or running.
  • Avoid spontaneous combustion in hay by ensuring that it is properly dried before putting it in the barn.
  • Ensure that all electrical installations and wiring are inspected and approved by the hydro authority.
  • Only burn rubbish in an incinerator equipped with a spark arrestor. The incinerator should be located 30 metres from any major buildings.
  • Attach lightning rods to all major buildings.
  • Equip crop dryers with controls that will automatically shut off blowers or dampers when they get too hot.
  • Label and store pesticides in a separate building.
  • Never store fuel inside a building.
  • Never burn your field.

Fire safety tips for babysitters

Babysitters are responsible for both the children and the property of their employer. Here are some tips to help you keep yourself and your charges safe.

Bring with you:

  • A smoke alarm
  • Flash light
  • Night light
  • Babysitter's pamphlet
  • Telephone stickers of emergency numbers

When you arrive, ask:

  • For emergency phone numbers such as the Poison Control Centre number
  • The full address of the residence
  • A phone number where your employer can be reached
  • For a tour of the house, and take careful note of exits
  • How door locks and windows work
  • If the family has a fire escape plan and if the children have practised it
  • Where the smoke alarm is, if it works, and if the children know what it sounds like

When the parents leave, check:

  • That doors and windows are locked
  • The kitchen to ensure that the oven and stove are off
  • The living room to ensure there are no lit cigarettes
  • The bedrooms to be sure that nothing unsafe is lying in a child's reach

We recommend that babysitters do not use cooking or heating stoves.

What to do in case...

of a gas leak

  • Do not turn off any lights or electrical appliances
  • Get out
  • Call 9-1-1 from a safe place

of smoke

  • Shout "fire"!
  • Stay close to the floor, where there is fresh air
  • Close all doors as you leave
  • Call 9-1-1 from a safe place.
  • Do not go back into a burning building

of fire

  • Get the children out. Do not waste time getting them dressed; just wrap them in a blanket.
  • Once the children are in a safe place, call 9-1-1
  • Do not go back into the building

If you are in an apartment building and the alarm sounds, check the door.

  • If it is not warm, check the corridor for smoke. If there is no smoke, proceed to the nearest exit. Take the key with you. Sound the fire alarm and use the stairs - NOT the elevator - to leave the building.
  • If it is warm or if there is heavy smoke in the corridor, it may be safer to stay in the apartment. Close the door and place a wet towel at its base. Call 9-1-1 and tell them where you are- even if there are already rescue workers on the scene. Go to a window and signal your location. Wait for firefighters to rescue you.
  • If a fire should start in your apartment, stay low. Get the children out and close all doors behind you, especially your apartment door. Sound the fire alarm and use the stairs the get out of the building. If your clothing or the children's clothing catches on fire, smother the flames with a towel, blanket or other thick material, or stop, drop and roll out the fire.

In Case of Fire in Your Home

Make a family fire-escape plan and keep your escape routes free of obstructions. Practice this plan often, and keep these pointers in mind; they will tell you pointers from those who know what it takes to get out alive:

  • Stay calm.
  • Sound a warning.
  • If you awaken to a smoke-filled room, crawl below the smoke to safety.
  • Check the doors to see if they are warm. A warm door may mean that there is a fire on the other side. Use an alternate exit, if possible.
  • Get everyone out; wrap children in blankets if necessary-don't take time to get dressed.
  • Close the doors behind you as you evacuate. This will slow down the fire.
  • If it is safe to do so, turn off all appliances as you leave.
  • If your hair or clothing should catch on fire, smother the flames with a towel, blanket or other thick material, or stop, drop and roll out the flames. Get medical attention as soon as possible.
  • Call Ottawa Fire Services from a safe location. Do not delay.

Home-safety tips

  • Check your smoke alarm regularly and replace the battery as necessary.
  • Avoid careless smoking. Use ashtrays and never smoke in bed
  • Avoid unsafe cooking practices. Use caution when frying and keep a lid close by to cover a pot of hot grease in case it catches fire.
  • Avoid storing unnecessary flammable liquids in your home or attached garage. Never store propane cylinders in your home or attached garage.
  • Do not use unsafe electrical appliances. Discard frayed extension cords and do not use them as permanent wiring. Do not overload circuits.
  • Twice a year, tighten fuses in the panel or check circuit breakers for free operation.
  • Ensure that your wood-stove and chimney are safely installed and maintained.
  • Clean-up your basement, garage, yard and other storage areas twice a year.

If you cannot extinguish a small fire with your portable fire extinguisher or if the smoke is hazardous, leave the area at once. Never place yourself or others in jeopardy by attempting to extinguish a fire. Close the door to confine the fire. Alert the other occupants and call 9-1-1 from a safe place. Finally, wait outside for firefighters to arrive.

Home fire safety tips and guide

There are easy steps you can take to prevent a fire from occurring in your home.

Ottawa Fire Services has compiled helpful home safety tips (below) that will remind you of some of the preventative measures you can take to be fire-safe.

Want to ensure your home is as safe as possible from a fire? Make sure you also read our Fire Safety in the Home Guide.

Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms

  • Install working smoke alarms on every storey of the home and outside all sleeping areas. Install carbon monoxide alarms outside all sleeping areas. It’s the law.
  • For extra protection, install a smoke alarm in every bedroom and a carbon monoxide alarm on every storey.
  • Test your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms once a month.
  • Change alarm batteries annually or whenever the low-battery warning sounds.
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installing, testing, maintaining and replacing smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.

Home Fire Escape Planning 

  • Develop a home fire escape plan and practice it with the entire family.
  • Make sure everyone knows two ways out of each room, if possible.
  • Determine who will be responsible for helping young children, older adults or anyone else that may need assistance when escaping.
  • Choose a meeting place outside, such as a tree or lamp post, where everyone can be accounted for.
  • Call the fire department from outside the home, from a cell phone or neighbour’s home.
  • Once out, stay out.  Never re-enter a burning building.
  • Keep all exits in the home clear and easy to use. 

Cooking Fire Safety

  • Always stay in the kitchen when you are cooking.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire — oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains — away from your stovetop.
  • Keep a proper fitting pot lid near the stove when cooking.  If a pot catches fire slide the lid over the pot and turn off the stove.  Do not move the pot.
  • Wear tight-fitting or rolled up sleeves when using the stove.  Loose dangling clothing can easily catch fire.  If your clothing catches fire, stop, drop to the ground and roll over and over to put out the fire.

Other Things to Consider to Prevent Fire in Your Home

  • Keep matches and lighters out of the sight and reach of children.
  • Always blow out candles before leaving the room.
  • If anyone in the home smokes, smoke outside.
  • Ensure items that can burn are one metre away from space heaters.
  • Avoid overloading the electrical outlets. Extension cords should be used only as a temporary connection.