Indoor fire safety

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Home fire escape plan

Make a family fire escape plan and keep your escape routes free of obstructions. As part of your plan, keep a list and pictures of all your possessions, stored in multiple places, such as online in a cloud or email mailbox, a safety deposit box or with a family member living in a different location.

Practice your plan often, and keep these pointers in mind:

  • Stay calm
  • Sound a warning
  • If you awaken to a smoke-filled room, crawl below the smoke to safety
  • Check the doors with the back of your hand 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 to slow down the fire
  • If it is safe to do so, turn off all appliances as you leave
  • If your hair or clothing catches on fire, smother the flames with a towel, blanket or other thick material, or stop, drop and roll with your hands over your face
  • Seek medical attention as soon as possible; if required
  • Call 911 from your meeting place

High-rise fires

In case of fire or fire alarm

Often, building management will keep a ‘persons requiring assistance’ list. This list can aid firefighters in quickly providing aid to those of special need. Talk to your building’s management if you believe you would require assistance in the event of an emergency.

  1. Don’t waste time investigating what’s happened or collecting valuables
  2. Sound the fire alarm and shout “Fire!”
  3. If there is heavy smoke in the corridor:
    1. remain in your apartment
    2. put a towel at the door base to reduce smoke entry
    3. Signal from a window (e.g. with a bright coloured towel) and wait for Firefighters.
  4. If it is safe, move as quickly and safely as you can to exit the building
    1. If possible, turn off appliances
    2. feel doors first for heat; if it is hot, stay in the apartment and call 9-1-1
    3. take your key with you in case smoke forces a return to your apartment
    4. close the door behind you to slow fire and smoke spread
    5. stay low, crawling below the smoke
    6. use the stairwells to exit
    7. If the stairwell has smoke, use an alternate stairwell or remain in your area
  5. Don’t use the elevator - elevators can feed the fire by pushing oxygen to the fire floor
  6. Stop, drop and roll with your hands over your face if you’re on fire
  7. Call 9-1-1 from a safe place outside and stay out

Know your building

  • Know the location of exits and fire-alarm pull stations
  • Make a simple floor plan showing two exits and walk the distance, counting the number of steps to the exits
  • Make your family fire-escape plan and have a family meeting to discuss the plan
  • Make sure that you can follow your escape plan in the dark as hallway and exit lighting may be out in an emergency
  • Some buildings may have a PA system integrated into the fire alarm that Firefighters will use to provide directions in case of fire
  • Have regular fire drills with your family and participate in those held by your building's management

The Ontario Fire Code dictates that:

  • all exits are to be free of any obstructions
  • all exit doors are to be kept closed
  • You must report any fire safety violations to the superintendent immediately

Residents must:

  • Never assume it’s a false alarm, when an alarm sounds get out and stay out
  • Not put burning materials such as cigarettes and ashes into the garbage chute
  • Not dispose of flammable liquids or aerosol cans in the chutes
  • Not force cartons, coat hangers or bundles of paper into the garbage chutes

Never endanger yourself or others by attempting to extinguish a fire. If you cannot extinguish the small fire with an extinguisher, or if the smoke is dangerous, leave the fire area immediately. Close the door to confine and contain the fire. Activate the fire alarm system, call 9-1-1 and wait outside for help to arrive.

Cooking and kitchen fire safety

Be a winner and enjoy your dinner

  • Never leave cooking food unattended, always set a timer and bring an oven mitt as a reminder when you are momentarily distracted such as answering the phone
  • Keep a fire extinguisher mounted within easy reach
  • Keep dish towels/cloths away from the stove
  • Have kid-free and/or pet-free zones of at least 1 metre (3 feet) around the stove and areas where hot food or hot drinks are prepared
  • Turn pot handles inwards so they cannot be pulled down
  • Check appliances are turned off when you’ve finished cooking
  • If you're tired, feeling disoriented and/or drowsy, don’t risk cooking and choose a readymade option.

Grease fire

Use a fire extinguisher, or

  1. Wearing an oven mitt, use the pot lid (or a cookie sheet) like a shield and slide it over the top of the pot
  2. Turn off the stove and exhaust fan
  3. Don’t move the pan nor the lid/cover until the fire is completely out and the contents have had time to cool (at least 15 minutes)

Note:

  • Do not pour water onto a grease fire
  • Never try to carry a pot/pan of burning oil outside; it can easily burn you and/or spread fire
  • Do not pour burning oil down the sink

Oven and microwave fires

Ovens

In case of a fire inside your oven;

  1. Turn off the heat
  2. Keep the oven door closed to contain the fire
  3. Call 911 if the fire is growing
  4. Use a fire extinguisher if necessary
  5. Have the appliance professionally serviced before you use it again

Microwaves

Note: Never use metal in a microwave

  1. Keep the microwave door closed to contain the fire
  2. Unplug/disconnect the appliance
  3. Call 911 if the fire is growing.
  4. Use a fire extinguisher if necessary
  5. Have the appliance professionally serviced before you use it again

Smoking materials and candles

Smoking Materials

  • Keep matches and lighters out of the sight and reach of children
  • If anyone in the home smokes, smoke outside
  • Dispose of cigarettes in a deep ash tray
  • Never dispose of cigarettes in potted plants, garden beds, from a balcony, or from a car window

Candles

  • Consider using battery powered candles as a safer alternative
  • Keep candles away from combustibles like curtains
  • Keep candles in a sturdy candle holder or glass jar
  • Never leave a lit candle unattended; always blow out candles before leaving the room

Wood stove and fireplace safety

We all enjoy the coziness of a warm fire, but danger can be lurking if precautions are not taken.

Wood stoves and fireplaces

  • Follow the manufacturer’s directions and local building codes for installation, use, and maintenance
  • Always start the fire using paper and small pieces of kindling
  • Never use accelerants to start a fire
  • Burn only well-seasoned wood
    • Green or unseasoned wood burns cooler than well-seasoned wood, and can cause creosote to build up at a much faster rate
  • Clean the ashes out of the wood-burning stove on a regular basis
  • Store ashes in a covered metal container and keep at a safe distance away from the house and any other nearby buildings

Electrical fire safety

Extension cords and power bars

  • Extension cords should be used only as a temporary wiring
  • Avoid running cords under rugs and furniture which can damage the cord and cause a fire
  • Have additional outlets installed by a licensed electrician instead of using cord splitters
  • Use an extension cord/power bar that is long enough to do the job – do not link them together
  • Keep electrical cords away from infants and small children
  • Outlets should have protective safety covers to prevent young children from poking objects into them

Electric heaters and appliances

  • Air conditioners, heaters, and other heavy appliances should be plugged directly into an outlet (not an extension cord)
  • Use only electrical space heaters that have been designed for indoor use and follow manufacturer’s instructions
  • Always turn off heating appliances when you leave a room
  • Have heating appliances serviced annually

Charging portable electronics

  • If you have electronic devices in your bedroom, mount a working smoke alarm in bedrooms to quickly alert you to trouble
  • Always use the charger that came with your phone, tablet, e-cigarette or mobile device
  • Replacement charger should bear a certification mark (CSA or ULC)
  • Recharge batteries and electronic devices on a hard surface and in an area clear of objects
  • Always ensure there is a good air circulation around the device while it is charging
  • Don’t charge items on a bed, carpet, or couch where they may start a fire
  • Overcharging devices can lead to battery problems so unplug them as soon as charging is completed
  • Nicked, leaking, or damaged batteries should not be used and should be disposed of properly
  • Avoid storing, using or charging batteries at very high or low temperatures
  • Protect batteries against being damaged (crushed, punctured or immersed in water)

Power outages

  • Ensure stoves and small appliances are off or unplugged to prevent issues when the electricity is restored
  • Use extreme caution during flood emergencies and power outages
  • The Electrical Safety Authority provides information about electrical safety during floods
  • Purchase generators with recognized approval labels and make sure it has proper connection receptacles and circuit breakers
  • Ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) should be installed in bathrooms, kitchens, and garages to avoid shocking hazards
  • Always use the plug and never pull o tug the cord to unplug

Home wiring

Older homes and apartments may have inadequate wiring which can be a fire/electrical hazard. Have your home inspected by a certified electrician if you experience any of the following:

  • One appliance must be unplugged before plugging in another appliance, otherwise a circuit breaker may trip, or a fuse may blow
  • Multiple extension cords, or power bars are often plugged into a single outlet because there aren’t enough outlets
  • Furniture arrangement options are limited if you need to be close to electrical outlets
  • Small appliances (e.g. toasters or irons), are slow to heat
  • The lights dim when using certain appliances
  • Rooms and stairways are entered in darkness because there are not enough three- or four-way light switches
  • If a circuit breaker trips often, call an electrician before turning the breaker back on or replacing a fuse

Fire safety in the home brochure

There are easy steps to take to prevent a fire from occurring in your home such as,

  • smoke alarms
  • carbon monoxide alarms
  • fire escape plan
  • fire extinguishers

Read the fire safety in the home brochure for more information on ensuring your home is as safe as possible from a fire.

12 ways to stay safe this holiday season

1 – Holiday lights

You don’t need to be Clark Griswold to shine bright with lights this season - an electrical fire is a sure bet for a lousy holiday!

When adding lights to you outshine your neighbours remember to:

  • use outdoor rated LED lights
  • toss damaged strings
  • hang with nail-free clips

2 – Candles and decorations

Is that candle too close to the snowman decoration on your table? Fires caused by holiday decorations and open flames from candles are all too common this season.

When it comes to candles:

  • keep them away from pets and children
  • put them in a sturdy container
  • blow them out when you leave the room
  • try battery-powered candles as a great alternative

3 – Smoke alarms

‘Tis the season – literally! Fatal fires are at their highest rate during the holidays. When seconds matter, a working smoke alarm is the gift of time in the event of a fire.

A smoke alarm should:

  • be on every floor
  • be tested monthly
  • get new batteries annually

4 – Carbon monoxide alarms

Unlike gingerbread, it’s odourless. Unlike your uncle’s ugly Christmas sweater, it’s invisible. Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a deadly gas that can cause flu-like symptoms.

CO alarms:

  • alert to a potential CO emergency with four beeps
  • must be installed on all floors of the home

5 – Tree watering

Falling needles are your tree’s way of telling you it’s drying out and is a fire waiting to happen.

  • Water your tree daily
  • Be wary of heat sources near the tree such as:
    • furnace vents
    • non-LED lights

6 – Extension cords

Getting wound up in the holiday spirit? Don’t “overextend” your outlets!

  • Extension cords are a temporary solution so:
    • avoid overloading the circuit
    • never run extension cords under a rug
  • If more outlets are required, have them installed by a licensed electrician

7 – Candles/Hanukkah

Hanukkah Sameach to those observing Hanukkah. When using a menorah,

  • keep open flames away from anything that can burn, like:
    • curtains
    • decorations
    • paper
  • keep lighters and matches away from children
  • douse any used matches before putting in the garbage

8 – Home fire escape plans

Santa needs one way out of your home – you need two. Give your family and friends the gift of peace of mind through a home fire escape plan by:

  • knowing two ways out of your home in an emergency
  • familiarizing your guests with exits

9 – Cooking

Holidays are stressful enough but when 17 per cent of fires in Ontario are cooking-related, it’s important to remember to slow things down in the kitchen.

  • Never leave the stove unattended
  • Turn pot and pan handles inwards
  • Keep a fire extinguisher nearby

10 – Heating sources

Baby, it’s cold outside! Staying warm this Winter Solstice means practicing fire safety. Space heaters, wood stoves and fireplaces are all great ideas until an accident happens.

  • Keep at least one metre (3 feet) distance between your heat source and combustibles, like:
    • paper and fabrics
    • furniture
    • clothing
  • Keep space heaters away from doorways to prevent tripping hazards

11 – Smoking

Lit cigarettes are Ontario’s number one cause of fatal fires. This season,

  • smoke outside
  • discard of safely
  • use deep, sturdy ashtrays

12 – Lithium-ion batteries

Receiving a new lithium-ion toy during the festive period can be exciting but it can also add potential risk to your home.

  • Always monitor the toy or device when it’s charging
  • Read the manufacturer’s instructions for safe charging
  • Do not exceed the recommended charging time