150 fire, life safety tips

By Tyler J. Moffitt
Fire Chief/CEMC
Fort Frances Fire
& Rescue Service

In honour of Canada’s 150th birthday, here are the first 66 of 150 fire and life safety tips for you to embrace and share.
1. Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater.
2. Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
3. Never use your oven to heat your home.
4. Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters, or central heating equipment according to local codes and the manufacturer’s instructions.
5. Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
6. Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
7. Install working smoke alarms on every level of the home and cabin, inside all bedrooms and near sleeping areas, as well as outside all bedrooms/sleeping areas.
8. Make sure all wood fireplaces has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room.
9. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container (keep the container a safe distance away from your home).
10. Test smoke alarms monthly.
11. Following the manufacturer’s instructions and have a professional do the installation of wood-burning stoves.
12. All fuel-burning equipment should be vented to the outside to avoid carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.
13. If you heat with any type of fossil fuels, such as wood, natural gas, and propane . . . install and maintain working CO alarms to avoid the risk of CO poisoning.
14. If you smell natural gas or propane in your home, leave the home immediately and call your local fire department and gas company.
15. Make a home escape plan. Draw a map of your home showing all doors and windows, and discuss the plan with everyone in your home (having an escape plan isn’t enough unless you’re going to practise it).
16. Know at least two ways out of every room, if possible. Make sure all doors and windows leading outside open easily.
17. Have an outside meeting place (like a tree, mailbox, or light pole) a safe distance from the house where everyone should meet.
18. Practise your home fire drill at night and during the day with everyone in your home, twice a year.
19. Purchase and have portable fire escape ladders if you have a two-storey home.
20. Teach children how to escape on their own in case you can’t help them.
21. Test all your smoke alarms today to ensure they all are working.
22. If the smoke alarm sounds, get out and stay out (never go back inside for people or pets).
23. If you have to escape through smoke, get low and go under the smoke to your way out.
24. Call the fire department from outside your home.
25. Blow out all candles when you leave the room or go to bed.
26. Avoid use of candles in bedrooms and other area where people may fall asleep.
27. Keep candles away from anything that can burn.
28. Think about investing in flameless candles-they look and smell like real candles.
29. Use candle holders that are sturdy and won’t tip easily.
30. Put candle holders on a sturdy, uncluttered surface.
31. Light candles carefully (keep your hair and any loose clothing away from the flame).
32. Don’t burn a candle all the way down (put it out before it get too close to the container).
33. Never use a candle if oxygen is used in the home.
34. Have flashlights and battery-powered lighting ready to use during power outage (never use candles).
35. Never leave a child alone in a room with a burning candle.
36. Keep matches and lighters up high and out of children’s reach, in a locked cabinet.
37. Have all electrical work done by a qualified electrician.
38. Only plug in one heat-producing appliance (i.e., coffee maker, toaster, space heater, etc.) into a receptacle outlet at a time.
39. Major appliances should be plugged directly into a wall receptacle outlet (extension cords and plug strips should not be used).
40. Smoking is the number-one cause of home fire deaths in Canada. If you smoke, smoke outside.
41. Use ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) to reduce the risk of shock (GFCIs shut off an electrical circuit when it becomes a shock hazard). They should be installed inside the home in bathrooms, kitchens, garages, and basements.
42. All outdoor receptacles should be GFCI protected.
43. Don’t use electrical equipment or items near any sources of water.
44. Check electrical cords to make sure they are not running across doorways or under carpets.
45. Extension cords are intended for temporary use (have a qualified electrician add more receptacle outlets so you don’t have to use extension cords).
46. Use light bulbs that match the recommended wattage on the lamp or fixture (there should be a sticker that indicates the maximum wattage light bulb to use).
47. Call a qualified electrician or your property manager if you have problems with blowing fuses or circuit breakers.
48. Call a pro if you feel a tingling feeling when you touch an electrical appliance.
49. Call a pro if you see or notice discoloured or warm wall outlets.
50. Call a pro if you smell burning or a rubbery smell coming from an appliance.
51. Call a pro if you see flickering or dimming lights.
52. Call a pro if you see sparks from out outlet.
53. Nine-volt batteries can be dangerous (the positive and negative posts are close together). If a metal object touches the two posts of a nine-volt battery, it can cause a short circuit and could start a fire.
54. It is unsafe to store loose nine-volt batteries in a drawer near other materials (this could spark a fire).
55. Store nine-volt batteries in the original packaging until you are ready to use them.
56. If loose, keep nine-volt posts covered with electrical tape to prevent the posts from coming in contact with metal objects.
57. Weak batteries may have enough charge to cause a fire. Some fires have started in the trash when nine-volt batteries were thrown away with other items.
58. Store all batteries standing up.
59. Install working smoke alarms inside and outside each bedroom and sleeping area. Install working smoke alarms on every level of your home.
60. Large homes may need extra smoke alarms.
61. It is best to use interconnected smoke alarms (when one smoke alarm sounds, they all sound).
62. Test all smoke alarms at least once a month (press the test button to be sure the alarm is working).
63. There are two kinds of alarms. Ionization smoke alarms are quicker to warn about flaming fires while photoelectric alarms are quicker to warn about smoldering fires (it’s best to use both type of alarms in the home).
64. A smoke alarm should be correctly installed on the ceiling or high on a wall, and installed to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
65. Keep smoke alarms away from the kitchen to reduce false alarms (they should be at least 10 feet from the stove).
66. Replace all smoke alarms when they are 10 years old (working smoke alarms are one of the best ways to ensure you stay alive if a fire breaks out in your home).