According to the Canada Safety Council, firefighters battle more than 50,000 fires in residences each year. Each home should have working smoke alarms near the kitchen, outside the bedrooms and on each floor. In recognition of Fire Prevention Week, make fire safety a priority by developing a plan and practice your fire escape route.
All home insurance policies will cover damage caused by fire and comprehensive vehicle insurance will cover fire damage to a car or truck. In addition to insurance coverage, it’s important to be fire smart, which includes installing and checking fire-safety devices in a home and creating a fire-evacuation plan.
Planning your escape
In the event of a fire, getting you and your family out of your home quickly and safely is critical. The Canada Safety Council recommends the following steps for you and your family to plan and practice a fire drill at home:
- Draw a floor plan of your home
- Mark two ways out of each room, such as a window on a lower level or a door
- Establish a meeting place outside the home, such as at a neighbour’s home
- Be sure each family member knows the plan and practice it while staying low to avoid smoke and get the cleanest air
- Make a copy of your fire escape plan and put it on the fridge or family bulletin board. Put it by the emergency phone numbers that you leave for your babysitter when you are out of the home
- Hold a fire drill for your family once or twice a year. Vary the drills, to practice escaping from different fire sources, such as a kitchen fire or candle spill.
Installing fire-safety devices
Did you know smoke detectors can expire? Smoke detectors need to be checked twice a year to replace batteries, it’s a great opportunity to also check your detector’s expiration date. Most smoke detectors have a life span of 10 years however some models may expire within five years so it’s best to check the dates while changing batteries.
To change smoke-detector batteries, remove the detector from the wall or ceiling and look at the back of the device – this is where the battery pack is located. This area of the device is also where the manufacture date is often displayed.
According to Fire Prevention Canada, fire extinguishers can be good for small fires, but there are different types of extinguishers:
- Type A – designed to extinguish fires with wood, paper, plastic or other combustible materials
- Type B – designed for fighting fires fuelled by flammable liquids such as gasoline, oil or paint
- Type C – designed for fighting fires that have been started by electrical systems or appliances
For most homes, it is best to have a fire extinguisher designed for all three types of fires commonly found in residential homes. Fire extinguishers should only be used if it’s safe. If a fire is out of control, evacuate the home and call 9-1-1.
Like smoke detectors, fire extinguishers also expire. Reviewing the manufacturer’s instructions for the fire extinguisher often is the best way to learn when it needs to be serviced or replaced and how it’s used.
Fire safety during the holidays
The holidays are coming up and it’s a good time to learn fire safety tips for dealing with decorations, lights and candles.
If your family uses a real Christmas tree, get it freshly cut and make sure it’s watered daily. If you prefer an artificial tree, look for the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) label and the words “fire resistant” on the packaging.
Check your lights before stringing them on the tree to make sure they are not worn out, frayed or missing bulbs. Don’t overload circuits or extension cords with too many lights or appliances.
Keeping candles safe
More people burn candles during the holidays than at any other time of the year. Be sure to keep the wicks trimmed to 6 mm (¼ inch), do not place them near flammable materials or liquids and always put them out if you are leaving the room. Pay special attention to multi-wick candles that can produce larger flames and more heat. Avoid putting candles in decorations or arrangements that may catch fire. Only light candles when they are sitting on a stable surface.
Extinguish lack of fire-safety knowledge
Fire Prevention Week is the perfect time for homeowners to evaluate fire preparedness and educate family members about fire safety. Review our collection of fire safety tips for homeowners including how to use candles, space heaters and extensions cords safely, how to keep your wood or gas burning fire place safe and how to reduce the risks of fires in your kitchen.