There are many things you can do to help make your home as safe as possible. This section will provide you with some common information and is not intended to be all inclusive of all Home Fire Safety initiatives.
- Regularly inspect your home for fire hazards
- Install smoke alarms on every level of your home including bedrooms. Vacuum over and around alarms every six months and replace batteries at least once a year
- Sleep with the bedroom door closed
- Plan and practice two escape routes from each room. Rehearse the escape routes every six months
- Establish a family meeting place outside of the home
- Matches and lighters are one of the leading causes of fire deaths among young children
- Children as young as two years old are able to strike matches and can start fires. Lighters and matches are tools for grown-ups.
- Keep all matches and lighters out of the hands of children. If possible keep these fire sources safe in locked drawers
- Install a fire extinguisher in your home
- Adults must be positive role models for children
- Never leave children unattended near operating stoves or burning candles, even for a short period
Quick facts about fires and burn injuries
- Fire kills eight people each week in Canada, with residential fires accounting for 73% of these fatalities
- Eighty-percent of all burn injuries and deaths are preventable?
- There are more than 2.5 million burn injuries and thousands of fatalities each year in Canada and the United States
- Senior citizens are more likely to die in home fires than any other segment of the population, for several reasons:
- A decreased ability to smell leaking gas or something burning.
- Older adults tend to react more slowly once a fire has started.
- Use of some medications may cause drowsiness and an inability to react quickly.
- The skin of older adults is thinner and more vulnerable to fire.
- Memory lapses during tasks can contribute to home fires.
What You Should Do In Case Of Fire
Take care of yourself in an emergency. Follow these simple rules:
- Recognize the sound of your smoke detector.
- Know two ways out of all rooms.
- Test the door. If it is hot, use your second way out.
- Crawl low under smoke. If you can, stay close to the floor.
- Stop, Drop, and Roll if your clothes catch on fire. Stop immediately, drop to the ground, cover your face with your hands, and roll. If you are unable to Stop, Drop and Roll, smother flames with a blanket.
- Get out and stay out during a fire. Call 911 from a neighbor’s house.
Cooking fires are the #1 cause of home fires and home fire injuries. Most cooking equipment fires start with the ignition of common household items (e.g., food or grease, cabinets, wall coverings, paper or plastic bags, curtains, etc.).
Facts & figures*
- In 2001, there were 17,100 reported home structure fires associated with cooking equipment, resulting in 370 deaths, 4,290 injuries and $453 million in direct property damage.
- Unattended cooking is the leading cause of home cooking fires.
- Three in every 10 reported home fires start in the kitchen – more than any other place in the home.
- Two out of three reported home cooking fires start with the range or stove.*From NFPA’s Home Cooking Fire Patterns and Trends, January 2005
- A lways use cooking equipment tested and approved by a recognized testing facility.
- Never leave cooking food on the stovetop unattended, and keep a close eye on food cooking inside the oven.
- Keep cooking areas clean and clear of combustibles (e.g. potholders, towels, rags, drapes and food packaging).
- Keep children away from cooking areas by enforcing a “kid-free zone” of three feet (1 meter) around the stove. Keep pets from underfoot so you do not trip while cooking. Also, keep pets off cooking surfaces and nearby countertops to prevent them from knocking things onto burner. Wear short, close fitting or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking. Loose clothing can dangle onto stove burners and catch fire.
- Never use a wet oven mitt, as it presents a scald danger if the moisture in the mitt is heated.
- Always keep a potholder, oven mitt and lid handy. If a small fire starts in a pan on the stove, put on an oven mitt and smother the flames by carefully sliding the lid over the pan. Turn off the burner. Don’t remove the lid until it is completely cool. Never pour water on a grease fire and never discharge a fire extinguisher onto a pan fire, as it can spray or shoot burning grease around the kitchen, actually spreading the fire.
- If there is an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed to prevent flames from burning you and your clothing.
- If there is a microwave fire, keep the door closed and unplug the microwave. Call the fire department and make sure to have the oven serviced before you use it again. Food cooked in a microwave can be dangerously hot. Remove the lids or other coverings from micro waved food carefully to prevent steam burns.
- If you are a smoker, use the largest, deepest, non-tip ashtray you can find. Empty ashes frequently, wetting the contents before throwing them in the trash.
- Check cushions for dropped matches or cigarettes. These can smolder for hours and ignite long after you go to bed.
- Never smoke in bed or while on medication that could make you drowsy or disoriented. And, never leave a cigarette in an ashtray, or on the arm of a couch or chair.
Remember that a candle is an open flame. It can easily ignite any combustible nearby.
Facts and figures
- During 2001, an estimated 18,000 home fires started by candles were reported to public fire departments. These fires resulted in an estimated 190 civilian deaths, 1,450 civilian injuries and an estimated direct property loss of $265 million.
- Home candle fires rose 15% from 2000 to 2001 to hit their 22-year peak in 2001, the latest year for which data is available.
- Candle fires accounted for an estimated 5% of all reported home fires.
- Two-fifths (41%) of the home candle fires started in the bedroom.
- Over the last decade, candle fires have more than tripled from the 5,500 reported in 1990.
- December had almost twice the number of home candle fires of an average month.
- One-third (34%) of candle fires occurred after candles were left unattended, abandoned or inadequately controlled; Twenty-six percent occurred when some form of combustible material was left or came too close to the candle; Six percent were started by people (usually children) playing with the candle.
- Eleven percent of home candle fires started after the candle user fell asleep.
- Christmas Day was the peak day of the year for home candle fires in 1999-2001. Second peak day was New Year’s Day. Third peak day was Christmas Eve.Source: National estimates based on NFIRS and NFPA survey.
- Extinguish all candles when leaving the room or going to sleep.
- Keep candles away from items that can catch fire (e.g. clothing, books, paper, curtains, Christmas trees , flammable decorations).
- Use candle holders that are sturdy, won’t tip over easily, are made from a material that can’t burn and are large enough to collect dripping wax.
- Don’t place lit candles in windows, where blinds and curtains can close over them.
- Place candle holders on a sturdy, uncluttered surface and do not use candles in places where they could be knocked over by children or pets.
- Keep candles and all open flames away from flammable liquids.
- Keep candle wicks trimmed to one-quarter inch and extinguish taper and pillar candles when they get to within two inches of the holder or decorative material. Votives and containers should be extinguished before the last half-inch of wax starts to melt.
- Avoid candles with combustible items embedded in them