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 days of holiday fire safety

Day 1 - water fresh trees daily

If you're using a real tree,

  • buy a fresh tree
  • always keep the base of the trunk in water
  • Keep the tree away from any ignition source such as the fireplace, heaters or candles

Day 2 – check the lights

Before you deck the halls,

  • Check all sets of lights before decorating
  • Inspect the cords closely
  • Discard any sets that are frayed or damaged

Day 3 – check the smoke alarms

With family and friends spending extra time at your home over the holidays, it's a great time to check your smoke alarms.

  • Replace smoke alarms if they are over 10 years old
  • Test your alarms to make sure they will alert you and your family if a fire occurs

Day 4 – check the carbon monoxide alarms

Installing carbon monoxide alarms in your home will alert you to the presence of this deadly gas.

  • Make sure you have working carbon monoxide alarms
  • Replace any carbon monoxide alarms over seven years old

Day 5 – home fire escape plan

Make sure everyone knows how to get out safely if a fire occurs.

  • Develop and practice a home fire escape plan with all members of the household
  • Make sure someone helps young children, older adults or anyone else that may need assistance to evacuate
  • Once outside, stay outside and call 911 from a cell phone or neighbour’s house

Day 6 –extension cords

Extension cords are often used for that extra set of lights or the dancing Santa in the corner – use them wisely.

  • Extension cords should be used only as a temporary connection
  • Check the cords for damage and replace if necessary
  • Make sure cords never go under rugs as this can cause damage to the cord and cause a fire

Day 7 – space heaters

If you are using space heaters to help take the chill off, remember to give space heaters space.

  • Keep heaters at least one metre (3 feet) away from anything that can burn such as
    • Curtains
    • Carpets and rugs
    • Furniture
    • Holiday decorations

Day 8 - candles

When you go out, blow out!

  • Always blow out candles before leaving the room or going to bed
  • Keep lit candles safely away from children and pets
  • Keep lit candles safely away from anything that can burn, such as curtains, upholstery, or holiday decorations.

Day 9 – matches and lighters

Matches and lighters are often kept handy to light holiday candles.

  • Keep matches and lighters out of the sight and reach of children
  • Have only one lighter or book of matches in use at a time

Day 10 – cooking safety

Watch what you heat! The holiday season is one of the busiest times of the year, which means it's easy to get distracted from what we are doing.

  • Always stay in the kitchen when cooking – especially if using oil or high temperatures
  • If a pot catches fire, carefully slide a tight-fitting lid over the pot to smother the flames and then turn off the heat

Day 11 - smoking

Careless smoking is the leading cause of fatal fires.

  • Encourage smokers to smoke outside
  • Use large, deep ashtrays that can't be knocked over
  • Make sure cigarette butts are properly extinguished

Day 12 – responsible drinking

There's more to responsible drinking than taking a cab home. Alcohol is all too often a common factor in many fatal fires.

  • Keep a close eye on anyone under the influence of alcohol attempting to
    • cook
    • smoke
    • light candles