Household fire safety tips you should know
Did you know that one in 10 of Canadians will experience a fire in their home?
Despite this statistic, revealed in a study commissioned by the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs and Duracell, 48 per cent of Canadians think they have almost no chance of experiencing a fire. But the numbers don’t lie. In Ontario:
- 84 per cent of fire fatalities occur in the home
- Approximately 460 people are injured in a fire at home annually
- About 100 people die in house fires each year
Making sure you have a well-maintained home goes a long way toward protecting your loved ones and the things that matter most. Years of memories and treasured personal belongings can be destroyed in minutes! The good news, however, is fire prevention is easier than you think. Here are some tips to help you get started:
1) Install and check smoke alarms – You would think this one would be obvious, but in 48 per cent of deadly home fires in Ontario no smoke alarm warned the family! Not only is it the law, but it’s your first line of defence against a fire. Alarms should be on every floor, including the basement, and maintained. Keep them clean with periodic light vacuuming to remove dust from vents. Test your alarm monthly and change the batteries twice a year. Units should be replaced every 10 years. Homeowners should also install carbon monoxide detectors outside sleeping areas. Carbon monoxide is a silent killer - know its symptoms and replace the detectors every five to seven years.
2) Stay safe in the kitchen – Cooking fires are one of the leading causes of fire costing people in Ontario an estimated $54 million in deaths, injuries and property loss. Stove fires can start and spread in seconds. Never leave cooking unattended. Cover the fire with a properly fitting lid (using oven mitts) to smother the flames and turn off the stove. Remember to never pour water on a grease fire.
3) Don’t overload electrical outlets – Faulty outlets and old wiring are the main cause of most electrical fires in homes. That’s why it’s important to replace worn cords and not overload outlets. Don’t run cords under carpets.
4) Avoid dryer fires – Have your dryer professionally installed. Clean the lint from your dryer after every use and don’t leave it running when you leave the house.
5) Maintain your furnace and fireplace – Have qualified professionals clean and inspect your furnace annually. When you light a fire, be sure to open the damper before lighting it and leave the flue open. Keep embers off floors and rugs by using a fireplace screen.
6) Smokers should take it outside – Cigarettes are the cause of 30 per cent of fatal fires. Ensure the cigarettes are extinguished in a can of water or sand.
7) Develop a home fire safety plan - When you draw up a floor plan, include all the important details and get everyone involved. There should be at least two working exits from each room, stairways, and hallways and windows that can be used as fire escape routes, and a meeting spot outdoors. If you have children, make sure your babysitters are aware of the plan.
8) Be mindful of outside safety – After a long winter, dust and debris may accumulate in your barbecue. Thoroughly inspect it and clean before use. Replace your propane cylinder every 10 years. You can find the date your cylinder was last qualified on its collar. As the weather gets warmer, sparks from lawnmowers and power equipment can start wildfires in the yard. Be careful when using both on hot or dry days, and get your equipment checked regularly.
All fire departments have a host of fire prevention and fire safety resources. Ensure each member of your family is familiar with them. In the event of a fire if you’re in doubt, get out and call 911 after you leave.
Should you need guidance in finding the best insurance to protect your home in case of a fire, talk to your insurance broker.