Fire safety in your home

Being prepared is your best defence against a fire in your home. Minimize your family's risk of fire-related injury by following these safety tips.

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Smoke alarms

Smoke alarms save lives. It is important to put smoke alarms in the right places in your home. You should also test them regularly to make sure that they work properly. You can minimize your family's risk of fire-related injury or death by installing the right number of smoke alarms in the right places in your home, and by keeping them all in good working order.

  • Install smoke alarms outside each bedroom and sleeping area, and on each level of your home, including the basement.
  • Read and follow every step of the manufacturer's directions when you install your smoke alarms.
  • Test your smoke alarms every month to make sure that they are working properly.
  • Follow the manufacturer's directions for cleaning your smoke alarms.
  • Change the batteries as often as recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Replace any smoke alarms that is more than ten years old.
  • Investigate any false alarms, and have an escape plan in case of a real fire.

Fire extinguishers

Purchase a fire extinguisher for your home and keep it handy in the event of a small fire. Make sure you know what to look for when buying a fire extinguisher for your home.

  • Ensure your extinguisher is labelled by a nationally recognized testing laboratory.
  • The higher the number rating on the extinguisher, the more fire it puts out. It is important to make sure you can comfortably hold and operate the one you buy.
  • Have your extinguisher serviced and inspected regularly, and recharge it after use.
  • Install your fire extinguisher near an escape route and away from potential fire hazards.

Did you know?

Smoking is one of the leading causes of house fires. Smokers should regularly check their furniture for fallen cigarettes or embers, which can smoulder for hours before bursting into flames. Make sure to properly extinguish cigarettes and never leave lit cigarettes unattended.

Electrical products

You can follow some simple rules to reduce the risk of hazards associated with electrical products.

  • Check for counterfeit electrical products that do not meet Canadian electrical safety requirements. Signs of counterfeit products include poor quality, very inexpensive price, grammatical errors and unusual fonts on the product, labelling or packaging.
  • Regularly check and clean appliances with filters and screens such as dishwashers and clothes dryers. In the case of clothes dryers, leftover lint in the screen and piping can ignite in high temperatures, causing fires.

Power cord safety

  • Keep cords for electrical appliances, such as deep fryers, kettles, steam irons and toasters, out of the reach of children. They can be hurt or burned if they pull an appliance off a counter.
  • Keep cords a safe distance from heat and water sources.
  • Make sure that the proper indoor and outdoor cords are used for electrical products.
  • Discard or replace worn and/or distressed cords and plugs on any electrical product. Frayed/damaged lamp cords are a fire and shock hazard.
  • Never break off the third prong of a plug.
  • Unroll cords completely before use to avoid overheating.
  • Unplug heat producing electrical products when not in use, such as kettles, toasters, irons and hair dryers.
  • Extension cords should not be:
    • used as fixed wiring
    • permanently secured (stapled)
    • run through doors, walls, ceilings
    • run under rugs
    • run behind or on radiators or baseboards
    • used to support heavy objects
  • Read the directions to see if it is safe to use an extension cord or power bar with your electrical product.

Practices to avoid when using electrical products

  • Do not place heat producing electrical products too close to flammable material.
  • Do not place lamp shades too close to combustibles, including light bulbs.
  • Do not bring electronic devices to bed, such as laptops and smartphones. They contain lithium batteries which can explode and cause fires when they fail.
  • Do not leave cooking appliances unattended.

Lighters and Matches

Children who have access to lighters and matches risk causing fires that could lead to injuries and death. You can do the following to reduce the risk to you and your family.

  • Keep lighters and matches out of the sight and reach of children at all times.
  • Teach children about the dangers of lighters and matches.
  • Check under beds and in closets for burnt matches.
    • Burnt matches may be evidence that your child is playing with fire.
  • Keep in mind that:
    • not all lighters are child-resistant
    • not all child-resistant lighters are child-proof
    • lighters that look like toys are appealing to children


Candles can be a serious fire hazard if not used properly. Some candles also have design flaws that increase the risk of fire. There are a number of things you can do to reduce health and safety risks when you burn candles.

  • Extinguish all candles before going to bed or leaving the room. Never leave burning candles unattended.
  • Do not burn candles on or near anything that can catch fire (like curtains, bedding, flammable decorations, and clothing).
  • Keep candles out of the reach of children and pets. Place burning candles somewhere they cannot be knocked over.
  • Cut candle wicks short to prevent high flames.
  • Use sturdy candle holders that won't easily tip over.

Flying lanterns

Also known as sky lanterns or Chinese lanterns, these lanterns are typically composed of paper on a bamboo or wire frame, with a fuel cell made of a waxy flammable material. They are constructed to resemble a small hot-air balloon and are often used at celebrations and festivals. For safe use, follow these tips.

  • Read and follow the use instructions and safety information on the packaging before launching.
  • Use a flying lantern that is flame retardant and tear resistant, with a non-drip fuel cell.
  • Be aware that flying lanterns use an open flame. There is a risk of fire if the lantern comes into contact with combustible materials.
  • Use flying lanterns with caution. They can travel a long distance.
  • Do not add additional fuel or other accelerant to the fuel cell before lighting
  • Do not tie items or add any weight to the lantern.
  • Do not modify flying lanterns for use indoors. They are for outdoor use only.
  • Do not use lanterns during windy conditions. Use only during calm weather with no more than a slight breeze.
  • Keep water or a fire extinguisher nearby.
  • Check with your local fire department before using these products.

General tips

  • Take the time to create an evacuation plan and practice it with your family to avoid panic and confusion in the event of a fire.
  • Stop, drop and roll if your clothes catch fire.
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