Every year there are 24,000 house fires in Canada. Although there are many causes, there are then that are the most common and can easily be prevented.
Here’s what you need to know…
When a pot or pan overheats or when grease splatters, it can take only seconds to catch fire. Stay in the kitchen when you’re cooking. Especially if you’re using oil or high temperatures. Most kitchen fires take place when people get distracted or when they leave their cooking unattended. Keep all flammable items away from heat sources (e.g. oven mitts, dish towels, paper towels, etc.)
Have a qualified technician check our furnace annually and have your chimney cleaned and inspected annually. Keep portable heaters at least one metre away from anything that can burn (that includes curtains, furniture and humans – yes, we mean you). Don’t use heaters to dry shoes or socks. Install a carbon monoxide alarm to alert you to deadly carbon monoxide gas.
If you have an indoor smoker, make the bedroom off limits. Supervise smokers who may become drowsy (i.e. on medication or drinking) or smokers who may forget to extinguish their cigarette. Use large, deep ashtrays and never place an ashtray on or near anything that will burn. Check furniture for fallen cigarettes or embers - - a butt can smoulder for hours before causing furniture to burst into flames.
Ensure the following:
- Your electrical appliances don’t have loose or frayed cords/plugs.
- Your outlets aren’t overloaded with plugs.
- You’re not running electrical wires under rugs or heavy furniture.
- You’re not overusing an extension cord.
- Be careful about do-it-yourself electrical projects; many home fires are caused by improper installation. Always use or consult a licensed electrician.
Keep your candles in a sturdy holder on a level surface, away from combustible materials and out of the reach of children and/or pets. Blow them out before leaving the room and do a walk through before leaving the house to make sure none have been forgotten.
Children Playing with Fire
If a child is playing with fire, it’s typically out of curiosity - - what happens when something burns. If you find matches or lighters in their room or in their possession, if you smell Sulphur in their room, or if you find toys and other personal affects that appear melted or singed, your child may be involved in fire play. Address the issue immediately and put all matches and lighters out of reach.
If you have an older home or apartment, you may want to check for inadequate wiring, which is a fire and electrical hazard. Some warning signs include:
- having to disconnect one appliance to plug in another.
- having to use extension cords or ‘octopus’ outlets extensively.
- blowing uses or tripping circuit breakers frequently.
- Your lights dimming when you use another appliance.
As part of its regular maintenance, clean the removable parts (inside and out) with soapy water. Spray the connections with soapy water to check for potential leaks. If bubbles form when you open the gas, there’s a leak. Use your barbecue away from your home, deck rails, tablecloths and tree limbs. Barbecues should be used outdoors at all times – never indoors. That includes your garage.
If stored incorrectly, flammable liquids such as fuels, solvents, cleaning agents, thinners, adhesives, paints, and other raw materials can ignite or explode. The vapours can easily ignite from event just high temperatures or weak ignition sources such as a spark of static electricity.
Do not store flammable liquids near a heating source. Ideally, these liquids should be stored in their approved containers, outside the home in a cool ventilated area.
Christmas Trees and Decorations
Holidays are one of the worst times for house fires. Prevent your family from being one of the many homes by keeping your tree in a stand that will hold two to three liters of water. Top it up daily.
Keep your tree away from all heat sources, including radiators, furnace ducts, television sets and fireplaces. Check the decorative lights before placing them on the tree, and throw any frayed or damaged lights/cords. Never place candles on or near the Christmas tree.