Easy ways to keep safe
The Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs offers these autumn fire safety tips.
As fall arrives, it’s a good idea to refresh your memory on fall fire safety tips. Some safety tips are the same regardless of the time of year, but many safety concerns are seasonal, particularly those that involve keeping your home warm.
Outside the home
Never park your car or truck over a pile of leaves. The heat from the vehicle's catalytic converter or exhaust system can ignite the leaves below. The resulting fire could destroy your vehicle.
Flammable liquids should not be stored inside the home or in an attached garage or shed. This includes any unused fuel still in the fuel tank. Store this equipment away from your home or drain excess fuel out of the tank before storing. This simple safety precaution will help prevent accidental fires being sparked by escaping fuel vapors.
Remove fuel from lawn mowers before storing them for winter.
Contact your utility company if trees or branches are not clear of power lines.
Prune back trees, and rake up leaves and debris. If you live in an open area with a lot of natural vegetation, consider creating a defensible fire zone around your home. Prune the bottom branches from trees and remove shrubs and trees within 20 feet of your home
Don’t store cardboard boxes, paper or other flammable materials in the backyard. These materials provide ready fuel for a fire and all it takes is one spark.
Heating your home
It is the law for all Ontario homes to have a working smoke alarm on every storey and outside all sleeping areas. This covers single family, semi-detached and town homes, whether owner-occupied or rented.
Have a useable fire extinguisher available.
Get your central heating system cleaned, inspected and serviced by a certified HVAC (heating, venting and air conditioning) contractor every year before using it.
If you have a gas heater, make sure that you have a sufficient quantity of fully functioning carbon monoxide detectors installed in your home.
Keep all flammable materials away from your furnace. These include clothing, paint products, toxic materials, cardboard and more.
Fireplaces and woodstoves
Have heating appliances serviced and chimney flues examined for defects.
Have fireplaces and fireplace dampers checked.
Fireplaces should be equipped with an appropriate screen or glass enclosure to prevent sparks from flying out.
Wood burning stoves should be examined and the flue and chimney checked for creosote buildup. Creosote is a deposit from smoke that can build up in a chimney and can start a fire.
Use only seasoned wood, and avoid soft wood like pine, etc.
Never use a flammable liquid to start a fireplace.
Never overload the hearth with wood or artificial logs, the resulting fire may be too large for the unit.
Put all ashes outdoors and away from the house in a metal container.
Make sure that any space heaters are surrounded by at least three feet of empty space.
Never place clothing or any other objects on a space heater to dry.
Do not place space heaters near furniture or drapery.
Turn space heaters off when you leave the house or go to bed.
Avoid storing any combustible items near heaters.
In the home
Cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires and home injuries. The leading cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking. Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling, or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove. If you are simmering, baking, roasting, or boiling food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you are cooking. Keep anything that can catch fire — oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains — away from your stovetop.
Do not overload electrical outlets or use extension cords in the place of additional outlets.
Check electrical appliances regularly for wearing cords and plugs. Do not leave electrical appliances plugged in if they do not need to be.
Lack of maintenance is the number one cause of dryer fires. That is why it is critical to clean the lint filter before and after each use, and wipe away any lint that has accumulated around the drum. Perform periodic checks to ensure that the air exhaust vent pipe is unobstructed (lint accumulation)
and the outdoor vent flap opens readily. Do not run the dryer without a lint filter. You are encouraged to not leave the dryer running if you go out, in case it malfunctions.
Candles are great, when handled properly
Extinguish candles when leaving the room or going to sleep. Keep lit candles away from items that can catch fire.
Place candles in sturdy, burn-resistant containers that won’t tip over and are big enough to collect dripping wax.
Don’t place lit candles near windows, where blinds or curtains may close or blow over them.
Don’t use candles in high traffic areas where children or pets could knock them over.
Never let candles burn out completely. Extinguish them when they get to within two inches of the holder or decorative material.
Never leave children or pets alone in a room with lit candles.
Do not allow older children to light candles in their bedrooms. A forgotten candle or an accident is all it takes to start a fire.
During power outages, exercise caution when using candles as a light source.
Many destructive fires start when potential fire hazards go unnoticed in the dark.
Never use a candle for light when fuelling equipment such as a camp fuel heater or lantern. Keep candle wicks short at all times. Trim the wick to one-quarter inch (6.4 mm). Be wary of buying novelty candles. Avoid candles surrounded by flammable paint, paper, dried flowers, or breakable/meltable containers.
Extinguish taper and pillar candles when they burn to within two inches of the holder, and container candles before the last half-inch of wax begins to melt.
When buying or using novelty candles, try to determine if they pose a potential fire hazard (if they contain a combustible component for instance).
If they do, or if you suspect that they might, inform your local fire department.
Use extreme caution when carrying a lit candle, holding it well away from your clothes and any combustibles that may be along your path.
DESTRUCTIVE FORCE: While buildings are safer and fire-fighting techniques are more effective than they were years ago, fire remains a formidable force. Detectors save lives. Get into the habit of changing your detector batteries when you turn your clocks back in autumn.
TO THE RESCUE: Firefighters are expected to respond to all types of emergencies, both on land, and water. In municipalities such as South Glengarry, where there are large bodies of water, members are trained in ice rescue.