Keeping your home well-maintained and being familiar with safety practices go a long way to protecting youyou’re your loved ones from experiencing the nightmare of a fire in the home.
Protect your home
Confidence comes with having a safe home where all systems have been inspected and are in good working order.
- Make sure you install a working smoke detector on every floor of your home. Be sure one is near sleeping areas. If people in your home sleep with closed doors, install an alarm in each of the closed bedrooms.
- Smoke detectors come in various forms – electrically connected, battery powered or a combination of both. The combination is the most effective, continuing to function both when the power goes off and in the case of battery failure. Smoke alarms with long-life lithium batteries are also available on the market. The battery life is about 10 years.
- No matter what type of smoke detectors you choose, be sure to test them on a regular basis. Once a month is recommended. Keep them clean with periodic light vacuuming using a soft bristle brush to remove dust from vents.
- If you hear the low-battery warning on your detector, replace the battery immediately.
- Smoke detectors that are more than 10 years old may no longer be in good working order. They should be replaced with new ones.
- Keep your furnace properly maintained. Have it inspected on a regular basis by a qualified professional.
- Have the flue inspected regularly. Furnaces can give off carbon monoxide which, while hard to detect, is flammable.
- When installing a wood-burning stove, make sure it is not too close to a wall. Follow the instructions regarding required clearances.
- If you use a wood-burning appliance to heat your home, creosote can build up in your chimney and pose a fire hazard. Have your chimney checked for this.
- Adding insulation to your house can lead to a fire if not properly installed. Have an electrician check your electrical system and correct any deficiencies before you install insulation.
- Make sure added insulation is kept well away from ceiling light fixtures or other heat sources.
Electrical cords and appliances
- Never overload electrical outlets or use extension cords in place of additional outlets. Do not create “octopus” connections. Plugging too many cords into a single socket will overload the circuit.
- Regularly check your electrical cords and plugs. Remove any that are worn or frayed.
- Use the right cord in the right outlet. Do not break off the third prong on a plug to use it in a two-prong outlet.
- Keep electrical cords away from sources of heat and water.
- Do not lay electrical cords under carpets.
- Choose appliances that shut off automatically.
- Make sure your dryer is properly vented to the outdoors.
- Empty the lint filter on your dryer before each use.
- Never leave the dryer on when you go out.
- Store all combustible and flammable materials such as thinners, gasoline, paints and industrial cleaners in approved containers and as far away as possible from your furnace.
- Store gasoline in well-ventilated areas only.
- Never store propane indoors.
- Keep workshop area clean and remove garbage, wood shavings and oily rags on a regular basis.
It’s essential to adopt habits that help prevent fire. And it’s equally important to know what to do should a fire break out in your home.
- Never leave a stove unattended. This is one of the most common causes of fire. It’s easy to get distracted, so use a timer to remind you that you need to turn off your stove or oven.
- Don’t wear clothing with loose long sleeves while cooking.
- The best way to put out a fire that starts in a pot is to cover it with a lid. Keep a lid close at hand for this purpose when cooking.
When using candles, matches and lighters
- Always keep matches, lighters and burning candles out of reach of children.
- Never leave burning candles unattended. If you have candles burning in one room and move to another, for example, put the candles out.
- Use sturdy candle holders that are made of a material that doesn’t burn, like metal. Metal candle holders are safest. Wood or plastic ones can catch fire, and glass ones can break if they get too hot. Place them where they can’t be knocked over. Be sure that they are far enough away from anything flammable.
Have an evacuation plan – and practise
- Make sure that everyone in your home knows what to do if a fire occurs.
- Identify two ways out of every room.
- Decide on a pre-arranged meeting place outside.
- Remember that it is important to get out as quickly as possible and NEVER go back into a house where there is a fire. The fire department should be called from a nearby available phone.
- Practise your home fire escape plan on a regular basis.