Fire safety tips for your home

When fire strikes, the results can be devastating. These tips will help prevent a house fire or get everyone out safely if one happens.

Fire safety tips for your home

Smoke detectors

  • Smoke detectors won't do you any good if they're not operating properly. So make sure yours will sound if ever needed.
  • Once a month, check each detector by pressing the test button until the alarm sounds. If the unit has no test button, light a candle, blow it out, and hold the smoking wick near the detector. If the alarm doesn't sound in 30 seconds, replace the battery.
  • Twice a year open the case and gently vacuum the interior using the soft-brush attachment. If the case doesn't open, vacuum through the holes.
  • Change the battery once a year. Doing it on your birthday is a sure way to remember!
  • After 10 years, install a new detector.

Fire extinguishers

  • Fire extinguishers are rated A, B, or C — each kind is designed to put out a particular type of fire.
  • Class A fires involve wood, paper, and cloth.
  • Class B fires involve grease, gasoline, chemical solvents, and other oils.
  • Class C fires involve electrical equipment.
  • Although extinguishers rated ABC are a bit more expensive, it makes sense to keep these multipurpose extinguishers in your home. Keep one in every room of the house, preferably near an exit.
  • In addition, keep BC extinguishers in your kitchen and garage; this type of extinguisher is best suited for these locations. Because fire extinguishers eventually lose their charge, choose models that have pressure gauges and can be recharged. When the gauge shows low pressure, have the unit recharged immediately to keep it functioning.


  • Install and maintain smoke detectors and have charged fire extinguishers on hand.
  • Keep passageways, doors, and stairways clear and easy to navigate.
  • Keep drapes, bedding, and upholstered furniture away from heating vents, space heaters, fireplaces, and wood stoves.
  • Unplug TV's, computers, and appliances when you won't be using them for a while.
  • Sleep with your door closed. If there's a fire in another room, it will be hampered from getting to you before you can wake up.
  • Check extension cords for defects, and replace any that are damaged.
  • Keep curtains and other flammables away from stoves and cooktops.
  • Replace frame and panel doors to the basement and garage with steel doors — or at least solid wood ones.
  • Regularly clean your clothes-dryer's lint trap.
  • Keep a flashlight near your bed in case a fire causes a power failure.
  • Position your outdoor grill at least 60 centimetres (two feet) from anything that could conceivably burn. If it is a gas grill, make sure it is totally rust-free; a rusted area could develop into a gas leak and create a fire.
  • If you install a wood stove, position it at least one metre (three feet) from the wall. Install the stovepipe with clearances recommended by the manufacturer. Over time the wood framing in walls and ceilings can dry out from the heat of a stove and may ignite at a temperature as low as 93°C (200°F).


  • Smoke in bed or in an easy chair in front of the TV when you're tired or drinking.
  • Overload electrical circuits. Multiple devices plugged into a socket can cause a fire.
  • Leave unattended candles burning.
  • Allow children to play with matches, lighters, or candles.
  • Keep anything combustible within one metre (three feet) of your water heater.
  • Try to restart a dwindling fire by squirting it with lighter fluid. Add kindling instead.
  • Don't keep piles of newspapers, oily cloths, or flammable chemicals indoors. If they become too warm, they may catch fire through spontaneous combustion.
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