Editor’s note: This article was originally published on October 24, 2013 and was updated on October 28, 2015.
According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, home fires are responsible for 73% of fire-related deaths in Canada each year. The Ontario Fire Marshal reports that over 90% of home fires are preventable. The winter season is also the worst season for home fires. It’s worth taking the extra time to make sure your home and family are as safe as possible.
Here are 5 Ways to Prevent Fires in Your Home:
Install and Check Smoke Alarms Regularly
In only 35% of home fires in Ontario between 1995 and 2004, a smoke alarm had been functioning properly. The remaining statistics show that homeowners either did not have smoke alarms, they had them and they didn’t function, or the function or presence of a smoke alarm was undetermined.
Home fires are responsible for 73% of fire-related deaths in Canada each year.
A properly working smoke alarm may not prevent a fire, but it can give you valuable minutes to get out of the home if one starts. For best coverage smoke alarms should be installed on each storey of the home, including basements and outside of sleeping areas.
That might sound a little harsh, but it is the truth. A fire can happen to anyone at anytime!
Be Careful When Cooking
Many house fires start in the kitchen. There are a number of things you can do to prevent fires from starting while cooking, including purchasing and installing a small fire extinguisher in your kitchen; these are inexpensive and available at your local hardware store.
- Turn off burners and stoves immediately; if possible use the timer feature on your oven to cook so that it automatically shuts off when cooking is done.
- Don’t wear loose-fitting clothing in the kitchen, especially if you have a gas stove with an open flame.
- Monitor cooking closely when cooking with hot oil; consider purchasing a deep fryer or another safety-approved appliance that will allow you to fry foods safely without using a frying pan.
- Keep dishrags and other flammable items away from the stove.
- Don’t move a flaming pot away from the stove. Cover it with a lid, pour baking soda on it, or spray it with an approved fire extinguisher. See this article for more on putting out grease fires.
Check Your Electrical System
If you are in an older home with knob-and-tube wiring, replace it as soon as possible with up-to-date wiring that is installed to code. Knob-and-tube wiring is a safety hazard as it can catch fire more easily in the walls than modern wiring. You may even get a break on your insurance for doing this, contact your broker to find out.
If you are qualified, you can investigate yourself, if not, enlist the help of a local electrician. You should also make sure that ground fault interrupters are installed in areas where your electrical sockets may meet moisture, such as in the bathroom or kitchen. These are also available at your local hardware store.
If you notice lights flickering or going out randomly, this may be a symptom of a larger problem with your electrical system.
Use Only Modern, Safety-Approved Space Heaters
If you have to use a space heater, make sure it’s a modern heater that is safety-approved. Older heaters may have a sticker on them, but don’t have modern safety features that a more up-to-date heater will and they should be disposed of. Check out the Consumer Reports Space Heater Buying Guide for more information.
Maintain Woodstoves and Fireplaces Properly
Make sure chimneys are cleaned before you start using your woodstove or fireplace. If they came with the home and you didn’t install them yourself, consider having a contractor in to make sure that they were installed properly. A bad DIY job is a fire waiting to happen with either a woodstove or a fireplace. Make sure to let your insurance broker know before you have a wood stove or fireplace installed, as you will need additional coverage on your homeowner’s policy.
House Fire Resource List
Here is a list of all the links from this post in one place! Feel free to let us know which ones you found valuable by commenting or voting!