Steps for a fire-free home
Your fire safety plan should include these three home fire protection, prevention and safety components:
- Prevention– Properly-placed smoke alarms will warn everyone in case of fire.
- Planning– A good fire-escape plan will lead people out safely to a common meeting area.
- Practise– Practise will make sure everyone in your home will follow the plan in an emergency.
- Install several smoke alarms in your home. Place at least one on every level. Consider installing additional alarms in bedrooms of heavy sleepers and children.
- Connect hard-wired smoke alarms directly to the backup power system, or install a battery-powered smoke alarm on every level of your home in case of power failure.
- Test smoke alarms every month. Replace backup batteries once a year.
- Vacuum smoke alarms at least once every six months. Replace smoke alarms as specified by the manufacturer.
- Make sure everyone sleeps with their bedroom door closed at night. This will help to keep fire and smoke out of bedrooms and will provide you with valuable time to make your escape.
- Draw a floor plan of your home and identify two ways out of every room. Windows can be your second way out, but make sure that everyone can open the locks and windows easily from the inside. Any security bars on the windows must have a quick-release mechanism so you can get out safely.
- Choose a family meeting place a safe distance from the front of your home. Call 9-1-1 to report a fire after everyone has reached the safe meeting place.
- Make sure your plan considers people with mobility issues and young children who may require assistance from others in order to get out safely.
- If you use mobility equipment, such as a wheelchair or a walker, make sure that it is easy for others to find if you need help.
- Practise getting out of your home by all exits, by holding fire drills for the entire family.
- When the smoke alarm sounds, expect that you must get out immediately. Do not stop to collect possessions or pets.
- Always stay low to avoid smoke, and to stay in the cleanest air.
- Feel any closed doors for heat before opening – stay low behind the door and feel the door from the bottom up to and including the door handle.
- If the door and handle feel cool, open the door slightly and look outside. If it looks safe, then leave the building, and head for your family meeting place.
- If the door or handle feels warm, or you see smoke or flames beyond the door, make sure it is shut and use your second escape route. If you must escape from an upper window, make sure you have a safe way to reach the ground such as a fire-escape ladder.
- If you are trapped in a room, seal the openings around the door and vents with clothing or blankets. Call 9-1-1 and tell the fire department that you are trapped inside. If it is safe to do so, open the window, turn the light on, and signal and call for help.
Fire safety for seniors
Seniors are the most vulnerable to fire injury and death. The precautions on this page are additional tips that specifically apply to senior citizens and older adults.
Warning: Smoking and space heaters are the most common causes of injuries and fire deaths among seniors.
Never smoke in bed
However, if smoking is unavoidable:
- Use large, deep, and sturdy ashtrays
- Soak cigarette or cigar butts, ashes, and matches with water before throwing them in the garbage
- Keep smoking materials, particularly matches and lighters, out of the reach of young children
- Avoid smoking if you have consumed alcohol or medications, so that you don’t fall asleep while smoking
Use portable space heaters safely
- Only use space heaters that have a protective screen covering the elements
- Give space heaters at least 1 metre (3 feet) of clear space all around
- Keep all flammable materials away from space heaters
- Do not dry wet shoes, clothing or towels on space heaters
- Always turn off or unplug space heaters before leaving the house, or going to bed
Maintain smoke alarms
- When testing smoke alarms, do not stand on a chair or steps. Instead, use a broom handle to press the “Test” button on your smoke alarm
- If you have impaired hearing, purchase a special communication aid which converts the sound of a smoke alarm into flashing lights or vibrations
- Never remove batteries from smoke alarms located near kitchens when cooking. Instead, press the “Silence” button
Know your fire escape plan
- If you wear eyeglasses or take medication, remember to keep them by your bedside in case of emergency
- If you need to evacuate your home, remember to bring your eyeglasses and medication with you
- Seniors should consider sleeping on the ground level to ensure a safe escape when practising the fire plan, and in case of fire
- If you live with seniors, help the seniors to escape when practising the home fire plan, and especially during a fire