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Fire Safety Tips

Below is a list of Fire Safety Tips brought to you by Peterborough Fire Services.

Alcohol and Fire

Many fire deaths are caused by people attempting to cook or smoke while under the influence of alcohol.

  • Alcohol and fire are a dangerous mix.
  • Keep a close eye on any drinkers in your household and make sure all cigarettes are properly extinguished and the stove is off before going to bed.
  • Cigarettes can smoulder among upholstery cushions for hours before igniting. Check sofas and chairs for cigarettes that may fall between the cushions.
  • Install smoke alarms on every storey and outside sleeping area. If occupants smoke in the bedrooms, install smoke alarms inside the bedrooms as well.
  • Test smoke alarms every month and replace the batteries at least once per year.

Apartment Safety

If there is a fire in your apartment:

  • Tell everyone in your apartment to leave.
  • Close all doors behind you.
  • Pull the fire alarms on your floor and yell fire.
  • Leave the building using the nearest stairway.
  • Call the fire department when you are safe.
  • Meet the firefighters at the front entrance and tell them where the fire is.

When you hear the fire alarm, to go or stay ..... the decisions in yours.

Most of the time, the best thing to do is a leave the building as soon as possible. But in some cases you may not be able to leave and you mave to have to stay in your apartment. In either case you must act quickly. No matter what your decision you must protect yourself from the smoke.

If you decide to leave the building, check the door to your apartment. If smoke is entering from around the door, do not open it. Protect yourself from smoke inside your apartment.

  • If there is no smoke, brace yourself and open the door a little.
  • If you see smoke or feel the heat, close the door quickly and protect yourself.
  • If the corridor is clear, take your keys, lock your door and go to the nearest stairway.


  • Open the nearest stairway door carefully. If there is no smoke, use the stairway to leave the building. If there is smoke. Do not enter. Close the door. Go to another stairway, and open the door carefully. If there is no smoke here, use this stairway to leave the building.
  • If there is smoke, do not enter. If there are other stairways try them. If there are not other stairways return to your apartment and protect yourself from the smoke.
  • Place wet towel at the bottom of the door, call 911 and stand by the window, hang out a sheet so fire fighters can see you and rescue you.

Find out about fire safety in your building.

Campfire Safety

  • Campfires are the leading cause of preventable wildfires in Ontario.
  • Check with your local municipal office or Ministry of Natural Resources for burning restrictions or bylaws before burning grass or brush around your cottage.
  • Build campfires on bare soil or exposed rock, well sheltered from the wind. Keep a pail of water and a shovel on hand to control the fire.
  • Douse campfires with water and stir the ashes with a stick or shovel to allow the water to soak in and cool the ashes and the ground.
  • Campfires should never be left unattended and must be thoroughly extinguished before leaving the site.
  • Extinguish cigarette butts by dousing them with water or crushing them thoroughly in bare mineral soil or on bare rock.
  • Never discard a burning cigarette in the bush or from the window of a moving vehicle.
  • Allow portable generators, stoves and lanterns to cool before refuelling. Refuel on bare soil or exposed rock.

Candle Safety

Candles a glowing concern, when you go out blow them out.

  • Buy good quality candles that are smoke-free and drip-free.
  • Secure candles in a sturdy holder, in a location where they can’t be knocked over. 
  • Place a glass shade or hurricane chimney over candles.
  • Make sure lit candles are kept out of the reach of children and pets.
  • Keep all combustible materials, including decorative items and wreaths, away from lit candles.
  • When you go out, blow out! Always blow out candles before leaving the room.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Silent but Deadly - Carbon monoxide is an invisible odourless gas that can quickly kill you.

  • Carbon Monoxide (CO) is produced when fuels such as propane, gasoline, and natural gas, heating oil or wood have insufficient air to burn completely. This can occur in any appliance or device that burns these fuels such as furnaces, fireplaces, hot water heaters or stoves.
  • Other common causes of CO are cars left running in attached garages; barbecues operated inside; kerosene heaters that are improperly vented; or chimneys or vents that are dirty or plugged.
  • Prevent CO build-up by having furnaces and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year.
  • Exposure to CO can cause flu-like symptoms such as headaches, nausea, dizziness, as well as confusion, drowsiness, loss of consciousness.
  • Installing a CO alarm in the home will alert occupants to the presence of this deadly gas. If the only alarm is being installed, locate it near sleeping area. Additional alarms should be located in or adjacent to rooms with fuel-burning appliances.
  • If someone in the household is an experiencing symptom of CO poisoning, get everyone out of the home immediately. Call the fire department or 911 from outside the home.

Christmas Safety Tips

Christmas Trees

  • Buy a fresh tree, it should be dark green, no great amount of yellow needles 
  • Store the tree in a bucket of water until you are ready to use it
  • Before bringing it into your home, tap the tree to get rid of the loose needles and saw off the last couple of inches off the stem.
  • Put the tree in a bucket of water that holds at least 2 pints of water, top up the water level daily.
  • Place the tree indoors in a cool place away from radiators, fireplaces and other heat sources

Christmas Lights

  • Avoid running extension cords across doorways or under carpets
  • Plug only one high wattage appliance into each receptacle outlet
  • Replace or repair any electrical device with a loose or frayed cord
  • Turn off your indoor Christmas lights when you leave your house
  • Replace broken and missing Christmas lights with the right voltage bulb
  • Don’t fasten cords in place with staples nails, etc.
  • Do not place cords permanently in high traffic floor areas or where it may be pinched in doorways
  • Check your extension cords for damage
  • Don’t overload your extension cords or outlets
  • Avoid placing Christmas lights near combustible material


  • Secure your candles in sturdy holders, if possible place glass chimneys over them
  • Keep candles out of the reach of children and pets, away from combustibles
  • An unattended candle is an invitation to disaster
  • Don’t forget to put out your candles before leaving a room or going to bed
  • Keep lighters and matches out of the reach of children

Smoke Alarms and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

  • Make sure your smoke alarms have batteries and are working; Replace
  • Check and test the smoke alarms of relatives and family members who are unable to test or change the batteries of their own smoke alarms the detector every 10 years.
  • Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home, especially outside sleeping areas
  • NOTE: Replace Carbon Monoxide Detectors every 5 years or as recommended by the manufacturer

Cooking Tips

The number #1 cause of home fires is – unattended stovetop cooking

  • Stay in the kitchen when cooking – especially if using oil or high temperatures.
  • Keep a proper-fitting pot lid near the stove when cooking. If a pot catches fire, slide the lid over the pot and turn off the stove. Do not move the pan.
  • Wear tight-fitting or rolled up sleeves when using the stove. Loose, dangling clothing can easily catch fire. If your clothing catches on fire, stop, drop and roll over and over to put out the fire.
  • Keep combustible items such as cooking utensils, dishcloths, paper towels and pot holders a safe distance from the stove.
  • Cool a burn by running cool water over the wound for 3 to 5 minutes. If the burn is severe, seek medical attention.

Cottage Opening Safety Tips

  • Visually inspect the power lines leading into your cottage for damage.
  • Inspect indoor and outdoor wiring for damage
  • Have propane appliances inspected and repaired if necessary by a qualified technician.
  • Install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. Replace batteries.
  • Install a fully charged fire extinguisher. Learn how to use it.
  • Clean up the rubbish, fallen leaves and branches.
  • Clean your chimney.
  • Dispose of old solvents at your townships hazardous waste depot.
  • Post the cottage 911 address where everyone can read it. If emergency services can’t find you, they can’t help you.
  • Check with the local fire department about regulations on outdoor burning or fire pits.

Fire Extinguishers

If you have a fire extinguisher in your home, learn how to use it correctly!

  • Consider purchasing an extinguisher that has an ABC rating. This type can be used on most types of fires.
  • Only use an extinguisher if you have learned how to do so. Remember the acronym PASS: Pull the pin; Aim the nozzle at the base of the fire; Squeeze the trigger; Sweep the extinguisher from side to side until it is empty.
  • Store the extinguisher in plain view, out of the reach of children and away from stoves and heating appliances.
  • Fire extinguishers should be used only on small, contained fires. Never let the fire get between you and the exit.
  • Most fire extinguishers empty in less than 30 seconds. If the fire is not out by then, leave the premises immediately and call the fire department.
  • Many stovetop fires can be safely extinguished without the use of a fire extinguisher. Slide a lid over the pot to smother the flames and turn off the stove.

Fireworks Safety

  • Backyard or neighbourhood fireworks displays can be extremely hazardous. Instead attend a professional fireworks display hosted by your municipality and have a safe and enjoyable holiday.
  • Appoint a responsible person to be in charge.
  • Carefully read and follow the label directions on fireworks’ packaging.
  • Always keep a water hose or pail of water close by when discharging fireworks.
  • Discharge fireworks well away from combustible materials such as buildings, trees and dry grass.
  • Keep onlookers a safe distance away, upwind from the area where fireworks are discharged.
  • Light one firework at a time. Never light a firework in your hand or re-light dud fireworks.
  • Discharge fireworks only if wind conditions do not creates a safety hazard.
  • Keep sparklers away from children. As the sparkler wire remains hot for some minutes after burnout, it should be immediately soaked in water to avoid injury.
  • If someone gets burned, run cool water over the burn for three to five minutes.

Halloween Fire Safety Tips

  • Buy only costumes, wigs and props labelled flame-resistant or flame-retardant. If you are making your own costume, choose material that won’t easily ignite if it comes in contact with heat or flame. Stay away from billowing or long trailing fabric. If your child is wearing a mask, make sure the eye holes are large enough so they can see out.
  • Provide children with lightweight flashlights to carry for lighting or as part of their costume. Dried flowers, cornstalks and crepe paper are highly flammable. Keep these and other decorations well away from all open flames and heat sources, including light bulbs, and heaters. It is safest to use a flashlight or battery-operated candle in a jack-o-lantern. If you use a real candle, use extreme caution. Make sure children are watched at all times when candles are lit. When lighting candles inside jack-o-lanterns, use long, fireplace-style matches or a utility lighter. Be sure to place lit pumpkins well away from anything that can burn and far enough out of way of trick or treaters, doorsteps, walkways and yards. Remember to keep exits clear of decorations, so nothing blocks escape routes.
  • Tell children to stay away from open flames. Be sure they know how to stop, drop and roll if their clothing catches fire. (Have them practice, stopping immediately, dropping to the ground, covering their face with hands, and rolling over and over to put the flames out.)
  • Use flashlights as alternatives to candles or torch lights when decorating walkways and yards. They are much safer for trick or treaters, whose costumes may brush against the lighting. If your children are going to Halloween parties at others ‘homes, have them look for exits and plan how they would get out in an emergency.

Home Alone Fire Safety for Teenagers

More and more children are taking on responsibilities in the home such as cooking and babysitting.

  • Don’t use the stove when babysitting or if you are home alone.
  • If you are allowed to use the stove, never leave it unattended.
  • Never put water on a grease fire.
  • Keep small children away from the stove when cooking.
  • Pop up the toast in the toaster when you leave a room.
  • If the toast catches on fire, unplug the toaster, using oven mitts empty the contents into the sink.
  • If the smoke alarm activates, fan it with a dishtowel or use the “Hush” button to silence it.
  • Blow out all candles in the home you are babysitting in and never light candles.
  • Check for matches and lighters in the home, put them away out of the reach of children.
  • Place full ashtrays out of the reach of children, never through them in the garbage.

Home Electrical Safety

  • Air conditioners and other heavy appliances should be plugged directly into an outlet. If this is not possible, use a 14 gauge three-wire grounding-type appliance extension cord.
  • Avoid overloading a circuit with “octopus outlets’. If additional outlets or circuits are required, have them installed by a licensed electrician.
  • Check cords for damage such as fraying or nicks. A damaged cord can expose wires and results in a potential shock or fire hazard.
  • Avoid running cords under rugs, which can damage the cord and cause a fire.
  • Extension cords should be used only as a temporary connection. If permanent wiring is required, have an additional outlets installed by a licensed electrician. Extension cords should not be linked together – use an extension cord that is long enough to the job.
  • All outlets near water should be ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs). A GFCI provides split-second electrical protection.
  • When replacing a fuse, make sure it is of theright amperage. Substituting a higher amp fuse where a smaller one is required can pose a fire hazard.

Kitchen Fire Safety Tips

  • Unattended cooking is the number one cause of home fires, so watch what you heat.
  • Clean the clutter off your stove.
  • Check the inside of your oven for combustibles before you preheat.
  • Never put water on a grease fire, put a lid on it, shut the stove off and let it cool down before you move the pot.
  • Unplug toasters, electric kettles, toaster ovens and coffee makers before you leave the house or go to bed.
  • Keep children away from the stove. Teach children to stay away from hot things in the kitchen such as the stove, toaster, kettles, food coming out of the oven or off the stovetop.
  • Never put water on an electrical fire.
  • Clean up spills right away.
  • Never take the batteries out of the smoke alarm.

Power Outages

  • Use flashlights or battery-operated lanterns instead of hurricane lamps or candles during a power outage.
  • If using candles, place them in a secure holder and cover them with a glass chimney. Put them in a place where they can’t be knocked over, out the reach of children and pets.
  • Propane and charcoal barbecues are for outdoor use only. Do not bring them inside.
  • Make sure electric stove elements and small appliances are off or unplugged to prevent fires from starting when the electricity is restored.
  • One use space heaters that have been designed for indoor use and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Provide adequate ventilation by opening a widow slightly while heater is in use. Before refuelling, turn off the heater, wait for it to cool and take the heater outside to refuel.
  • Electrically-connected smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms will not work when the power is out, unless they have battery back-ups. Make sure yours home has a battery-operated smoke alarm on every storey and a battery-operated carbon monoxide alarm.
  • During the power outage, conduct regular safety checks on each room. Make sure everyone knows how to get out immediately if there is a fire. Practise your home fire escape plan.
  • Cordless phones will not work during a power outage. Make sure you have a least one phone that does not require electricity to operate.

Risk Watch

People on a ski slope holding a Risk Watch bannar.In Canada, the leading cause of death and disability for children is preventable injuries. More children die annually from injuries than from all other childhood diseases combined. The majority of these injuries are predictable and preventable.  By teaching children how to make safe choices when faced with risk, the number of childhood injuries can be reduced significantly.

Risk Watch®: Unintentional Injuries is an injury prevention program that aims to do just that. Addressing the eight leading causes of childhood injury, Risk Watch consists of activities and lesson ideas school teachers can incorporate into their daily school lessons to teach children how to make safe decisions and prevent injuries.

The program has recently been revised to make it easier for teachers to use and to make it more relevant to Canadian classrooms.


Number 1 Cause of fire deaths in Ontario is careless smoking

  • Encourage smokers to smoke outside.
  • Do not extinguish cigarettes in plant pots, which often contain a mixture of peat moss, shredded wood and bark that can easily ignite.
  • Never smoke in bed.
  • Use large, deep ashtrays that can’t be knocked over.
  • Empty ashes into a metal container – not the garbage can – and put it outside.
  • If people have been smoking in your home, check behind chair and sofa cushions for cigarette butts before going to bed.
  • Install smoke alarms on every storey and outside sleeping areas. For added protection, install a smoke alarm in every bedroom. Test smoke alarms every month and replace the batteries at least once per year.
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