Home Fire Safety - Tips for Everyone

Edited by Admin
Home Fire Safety - Tips for Everyone

Home Fire Safety

We never like to think about the possibility of a house fire happening to us, but in fact, there are about 24,000 house fires  each year in Canada, most resulting in loss of property, and some in injury and death. While it is impossible to anticipate every danger, and for some fires, the cause is never assigned, there are some statistics that help us with fire prevention. These are:

  • In fatal, preventable house fires, more than 1/3 of the homes didn’t have a working smoke detector.
  • The leading ignition source in all preventable house fires is cooking equipment that ignites clothing, oil or flammable liquids.
  • In fatal, preventable house fires, the leading ignition source is smoking materials, such as cigarettes.

With those stats in mind, let’s examine some ways to mitigate the risks identified:

  • Smoke detectors. Obviously, installing dependable smoke detectors in every area of your home and testing and cleaning them regularly is very important. A smoke detector is your first line of defence and can make the difference between life and death when fire is moving through your home. (Smoke alarms should be installed in every area, of course, but be sure to place one on the ceiling of every bedroom, and in hallways in sleeping areas to ensure that they will wake sleepers if the fire occurs at night.) Buy only products that have Canada Safety Standards certification. Remember to change batteries in your smoke alarm twice a year; replacing the batteries when clocks “spring forward” and “fall back” is a good habit to get into. The alarms themselves should be replaced regularly as well; never use a smoke detector that is more than ten years old. Follow directions for installing these devices, and make sure that you have them on every level of your home. (And don’t forget to install carbon monoxide detectors near all sleeping areas.)

  • Kitchen safety. Keep anything flammable, like clothes, towels, and oven mitts away from the stove. Never leave pots on the stove or food in the oven unattended. Know when not to use water to douse a fire. Never use a kitchen appliance that has a frayed cord, or that is sparking or overheating. Always double-check to make sure that you have turned off kitchen equipment after use.

  • Smoking. It’s best to limit smoking to outside your home. Have a large ashtray filled with sand so smokers can extinguish cigarettes and other smoking materials easily and safely. If you do smoke indoors, never, never smoke in bed. Do not smoke indoors when impaired. Best of all, quit smoking!

    Remember that lighters and matches can be a fire hazard in the hands of children. Keep them out of sight and out of reach of children at all times. Teach children about the dangers of lighters and matches.

  • Fire extinguishers. Fire spreads quickly. Make sure that you have fire extinguishers on every level and in every area, including garage, attic, and storage areas and pay particular attention to areas like the kitchen, furnace, and fireplace. Find out which kinds of fire extinguishers may be best for certain areas. Check expiry dates regularly, and replace when necessary. Know how to operate your extinguishers; remember the acronym “PASS” for:
    • Pull the pin
    • Aim at the base of the fire
    • Squeeze the trigger
    • Sweep back and forth at the base of the fire

Here are tips to deal with other fire hazards that may be present in your home:

  • Inspect for hazards. Inspect your home for overloaded electrical circuits, light bulbs with greater wattage than a light fixture is rated for, or combustible items like newspapers, cardboard and rags. Keep any combustible items away from all portable space heaters, water heaters, furnaces or other heat sources. Check to make sure that extension cords are not overloaded, and that cords do not run under carpets or heavy furniture. Ensure that any flammable liquids are stored properly and kept in a detached shed. Never use gasoline in your home.
  • Fireplace safety. If you have a fireplace or wood stove, learn how to use it properly and safely. Use a fire screen to keep sparks from landing on the floor. Never use kerosene, gasoline, or lighter fluid to start a fire. Keep your fireplace clean and check for cracks or defaults.

  • Candles. Never leave burning candles unattended and place them only on non-flammable surfaces. Keep them out of reach of pets and children. Trim long wicks to prevent high flames, and don’t let large candles burn right down, as the heat can crack candle holders.

Finally, be prepared. Design a fire escape plan for your family that includes several designated escape routes and a meeting place outside your home. Teach it to your family members and practice the fire plan frequently.

Keep your home and family safe!