The Canada Safety Council sponsors home fire safety week each year. Its intent is to:

  • Raise awareness of potential fire safety issues at home and work.
  • Encourage Canadians to implement measures to prevent fires.
  • Pay tribute to firefighters for their efforts to fight fires and to prevent them.

Fire Safety Initiatives

Keep Safety on the Front Burner

According to Canadian fire commissioners, careless cooking is the most common cause of home fires. Kitchens are the most likely place for home fires to start. Thus, one of this year’s initiatives of National Home Fire Safety Week and the Canada Safety Council is “Put Safety on the Front Burner”. Canadians are being encouraged to prevent cooking fires. Cooks are encouraged to adopt the following safety procedures:

  • Never wear loose clothing while cooking
  • Don’t leave a pan unattended on a burner
  • Stand over it and stir
  • Don’t clutter your stove. If it’s not a pot or pan, it should not bed within an arm’s length of the stove
  • Don’t drink and cook. A tipsy cook is not a safe cook

Canada Safety Council advises home owners what to do if a fire breaks out:

  • If the fire has spread from the pan, get everyone out of the house and call the fire department
  • If the fire is confined to the pan, put a tight-fitting lid on it. Shut off the burner and leave the pan until it is cooled
  • Never douse a kitchen fire with water. This will spread the fire!
  • If you cannot contain the blaze within thirty seconds, get everyone out of the house and call the fire department
  • If your clothing catches fire, drop and roll

Have a Safe, Fire-Free Holiday Season

The holiday season is a time when fires could have been prevented. To that end Canada Safety Council recommends:

  • When purchasing a Christmas tree, tap it on the ground to test for freshness. Dropping needles are a sign that the tree is dry and highly flammable. The needles should be strongly attached to the branches and not easy to break
  • If you are buying an artificial tree, check for Canadian Standards Association (CSA) rating ‘fire resistant’
  • Water real trees daily in the receptacle in the tree stand
  • Place tree far away from heat sources including fireplaces and floor heaters
  • Never place lighted candles near anything flammable including your tree. Place candles in sturdy holders on a stable surface
  • Keep candles far away from curtains or any other potentially flammable objects
  • Dispose of your real tree within two weeks
  • Avoid metallic tree ornaments. They can short out if they come into contact with defective wiring. Choose ornaments that are non-combustible, fire-resistant, and non-conductive
  • Ensure that the fireplace flue is clean and unobstructed
  • Place flammable objects like gifts, cards, and Christmas stockings away from the fireplace
  • Do not burn Christmas wrapping paper in the fireplace
  • Ensure your fireplace has a safety screen to stop sparks
  • Never leave a fire unattended in the fireplace
  • Never use outdoor lights indoors or indoor lights outdoors. Use only CSA approved lights
  • Check wires to make sure there are no breaks, cracks or frays on cords or sockets
  • Check bulbs before installing lights
  • Never go to bed or leave the house without turning off the lights
  • Do not overload electrical outlets
  • Never string more than three sets of lights per single extension cord

Prevalence of Fires

Fire fighters respond to 50,000 fires in Canada annually and every year, fires kill and injure Canadians. Fires in Canada in 2015 have killed an average of eight people each week. In 2011, nearly two hundred Canadians died from exposure to smoke and/or fire. In 2012-2013, there were nearly a thousand Canadians hospitalized due to injuries from fire and flames. Many of these could have been prevented. This is the focus of Home Fire Safety Week in Canada during the week of Nov 24 to 30.

One initiative of the Canada Safety Council is to encourage families to have an evacuation plan in case of a home fire and to have this plan practiced regularly.

Home Evacuation Plan

Every home should have a working smoke detector on each floor of the house—including the basement. These smoke detectors should be checked regularly and batteries changed when the time changes in the spring and the fall. The smoke detectors should be connected so that, if a fire breaks out in the basement, alarms go off outside the bedrooms on the second floor.

Every household should have an emergency plan for speedy reaction to a fire. A floor plan of your house should show every exit from every room, a main escape route and an alternate escape route from each room. Once evacuation occurs there should be an identified safe place for everyone to meet, which is typically referred to as a muster point. The evacuation plan should be practiced regularly to ensure everyone knows what to do.

Everyone in the household should know how to contact the fire department and how to use a fire extinguisher. Extinguishers should be installed near an escape route, and should be easily accessible. Fire extinguishers should be maintained at least once a year.

Fire Safety Education

Each year fire and safety professionals visit schools to talk to thousands of children about the dangers of fire and fire safety measures. They teach about the importance of smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, escape route planning and how to “stop, drop and roll”. Nevertheless there are still many preventable fires.

Homeowners are not getting the message about fire safety measures—or are choosing to ignore it. Good strategies are to talk to your kids about fire safety. Fire Safety Awareness Week is an excellent time for this, as children will be hearing about this important issue at school. With winter approaching, checking heat sources like furnaces, fireplaces and wood stoves is timely. Make sure pipes, filters, and outlets are cleaned and checked by professionals. Fire safety is everyone’s business.