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Prevent a Fire from Starting

Fire prevention

The best way to stay fire safe is to prevent fires from starting. Here are some tips to help address some of the leading causes of home fires in Ontario.

Cooking safety

Unattended cooking is a leading cause of home fires in Ontario. To prevent cooking fires:

  • be alert – do not cook if you:
    • are sleepy
    • have consumed alcohol, drugs or medicine that makes you drowsy
  • always stay in the kitchen while cooking and turn off the stove if you must leave
  • keep anything that burns a safe distance from the stove, including:
    • oven mitts
    • cooking utensils
    • dishcloths
    • paper towels
    • potholders
  • keep a proper-fitting pot lid near the stove when cooking so you can slide the lid over the pot and turn off the stove if the pot catches fire. Do not move the pot until it has cooled completely
  • wear short or tight sleeves or roll sleeves up when cooking, to avoid loose-fitting clothes from catching fire on stove burners

Smoking safety

Smoking is the number one cause of fatal home fires in Ontario. Alcohol is a factor in many smoking-related fires. To prevent smoking fires:

  • be alert when smoking – you will not be alert if you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol, drugs or medicine that makes you drowsy
  • never smoke in bed
  • encourage smokers to smoke outside, including outside the garage
  • check behind chair and sofa cushions for cigarette butts before going to bed if people have been smoking in your home
  • use large, deep ashtrays that cannot be knocked over
  • empty ashes into a metal container, not a garbage can, and keep it outside
  • do not extinguish cigarettes in plant pots, which may contain a mixture of peat moss, shredded wood and bark that can easily ignite

Electrical safety

Electrical equipment is a leading cause of home fires in Ontario. To prevent electrical fires:

  • avoid running cords under rugs which can damage the cord and cause a fire
  • avoid overloading a circuit. If additional outlets or circuits are required, have them installed by a licensed electrician
  • use extension cords only as a temporary connection, if permanent wiring is required, have additional outlets installed by a licensed electrician
  • do not link extension cords together, use an extension cord that is long enough
  • plug air conditioners and other heavy appliances directly into an outlet
  • install ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) in bathrooms, kitchens and garages (GFCIs shut off an electrical circuit when it becomes a shock hazard)
  • check electrical cords for damage, such as fraying or nicks as a damaged cord can expose wires and result in a potential shock or fire hazard

Heating safety

Stay safe while keeping warm. To prevent fires:

  • ensure woodstoves, fireplaces and fireplace inserts are installed by a qualified technician according to the manufacturer’s instructions
  • have your heating system, vents and chimneys inspected and cleaned annually by a qualified service technician
  • ensure all outside heating vents are not blocked
  • let ashes from your woodstove or fireplace cool before emptying them into a metal container with a tight-fitting lid and keep the container outside
  • always use a fire screen in front of a fireplace
  • burn dry, well-seasoned wood in fireplaces and woodstoves to reduce the risk of excessive creosote build-up in chimneys
  • keep space heaters at least one metre or three feet away from anything that can burn, including curtains, upholstery and clothing

In relation to heating and vehicle safety:

  • replace worn or damaged electrical wires and connections on vehicles and extension cords and use the proper gauge extension cord for vehicle block heaters
  • consider using approved timers for vehicle block heaters rather than leaving heaters on all night
  • ensure that vehicles are not left running inside any garage or building

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