Fire Prevention and Safety Hazards

Product Recall Data

Some products need to be recalled due to an error from the manufacturer, or a recently discovered safety concern involving the product. It is important to be informed as to whether you may have unsafe products in your home that could put you or your family at risk.

Periodically check the Health Canada Website for up-to-date postings on product recalls, or check out our Facebook or Twitter pages for posts on product recalls that may affect you.

Take a look at some of our Safety Tips below to ensure you are practicing proper fire safety:

Burn Prevention

Severity of Burns

It is important to be able to recognize the severity of the burn in order to properly treat it. Below is a brief overview of the differences between the different severity of burns:

First-Degree Burns are mild and usually heal quickly. These are burns that redden the skin and cause some soreness, but they do not result in any serious damage.

Second-Degree Burns are far more serious. They cause severe pain and result in blistered skin. They require immediate first-aid and medical attention.

Third-Degree Burns are very severe and require immediate medical attention. Tissue is white, brown or charred and often surrounded by blisters. There is little to no pain at first, but recovery can be extremely painful.

Kitchen Burn Hazards

The kitchen can be a very dangerous place if you don’t follow proper safety precautions. Check out our tips below to ensure you stay safe while cooking:

Turn pot handles in. It is very easy to bump into a handle that sticks out from the stovetop, and the hot contents could spill on you. Curious children may also try to grab the handle to see what is inside the pot.

Keep children and pets at least a meter (3 feet) away from the stove when cooking to avoid potential spills or accidents.

Wear garments with tight fitting sleeves, or roll your sleeves up while cooking to reduce the risk of your clothing catching fire.

Do not put wet or frozen food into hot grease or oil. Oil and water do not mix, and doing so may cause the hot oil to splatter and cause severe burns.

Put a lid on it! If the contents of a pan or pot catch fire, use an appropriate lid to smother the flames. Never carry a blazing pan to the sink. The contents may spill and spread the fire around the kitchen. Be aware that a portable fire extinguisher can also splatter flaming liquids, if used improperly.

Be very careful when removing lids from hot food. Steam is hotter than you think, and burns more quickly than boiling water.

Keeping Children Safe

There can be many hazards in your home to a young child, however with proper education and safety practices you can ensure the safety of your loved ones. Some steps that can be taken are:

Teach Children that appliances that create heat are unsafe for them to touch. This is true for appliances like kettles, toasters, irons, coffee makers, space heaters, light bulbs, radiators, and more.

Never leave matches and lighters out unattended around children. It can be very easy for a young child to accidentally ignite these items out of curiosity. They are best kept out of reach or locked away when they are not being used.

Install safety covers on unused electrical outlets. This will prevent young children from inserting metallic objects into the outlet and injuring themselves.

In the event of a fire, get everyone to leave the premise and stay out. Your safety is what is most important.

First Aid

If you or someone around you has been burned, it’s important to act quickly to provide first aid and relief for the victim. Do not hesitate to seek medical attention, however here are some tips you can use until help arrives:

Cool a burn with cool water. This prevents the burn from spreading and provides relief for the pain. Run the water for 10 to 15 minutes over the burned area. Never use ice to relieve the pain, as it can cause further damage to the burned tissue. Third degree burns can be cooled using wet sterile dressings.

Do not use anything greasy to treat a burn. It has been proven that butter or ointment keeps heat in, worsening the burn.

Do not break blisters. Germs and bacteria may get inside the wound and cause an infection.

Cover the burn after cooling it down. Apply a clean, dry dressing to the burned area.

Remove any burned clothing that is not stuck to the victims skin. Remove jewelry or tight clothing from the vicinity of the burned area before it starts to swell.

Keep the victims body temperature stable to prevent shock. Use a dry blanked to cover unburned areas of their body.

Ready for an Emergency

Fires can happen anytime, anywhere. Even if you never experience an emergency it is important to be aware of what you can to to ensure the safety of you and your loved ones.

When a fire occurs, there is no time for planning. It is important to have a step-by-step plan ready for you and your family in the case of an emergency, and to make sure all members of your family know what to do in this situation.

Draw a floor plan of your home, clearly marking two ways out of every room – especially sleeping areas.

Agree on a meeting place outside your home where every member of the household will gather and wait for the fire department. This gives you the chance to perform a head count so you can inform the firefighters if anyone is still inside the building.

Practice your escape plan at least twice a year. Run a fire drill in your home, and appoint someone to be a monitor and ensure everyone participates. A fire drill is not a race. Get out quickly, but carefully. You can make your drills realistic by blocking certain exits to practice alternative escape routes, or turning the lights out.

In the case of a fire, do not stop for anything. Do not try to rescue possessions or pets. go directly to your meeting place and then call the Fire Department from a neighbors phone or cellphone. Every member of your household should know how to call 9- 1-1 or the Fire Department in case of an emergency.

Crawl low under the smoke. Smoke contains deadly gas and toxins that can be just as dangerous as the fire itself. Because hot air rises, the smoke will rise to the ceiling as it fills a room, and cleaner air will be closer to the floor. If there is smoke blocking your primary exit, use your alternative escape plan. If you must go through the smoke to exit, crawl on your hands and knees, keeping your head 12-24 inches (30-60 cm) above the floor.

Once you are out of your home, do not go back for any reason. The heat and smoke of a fire can quickly become overpowering without proper training and safety equipment. If anyone is trapped, firefighters have the best chance of rescuing them.

More than half of all fatal home fires happen at night while people are asleep. Smoke alarms are designed to alert you when a fire starts, even if you are sleeping and nearly double your chances of getting out safely.. Ensure you have smoke alarms installed on every level of your home, including the basement. Change all the batteries in your smoke alarms at least once a year. If your smoke alarm is more than 10 years old, replace it. For more information on smoke detectors, see our section on home smoke alarms.

Candle Safety

Candles are a very popular way to decorate your home. However, proper safety precautions must be taken to avoid a possible fire hazard. In Ontario, candles are the fifth highest leading cause of preventable fires. Here are some tips to ensure you will stay safe when using candles:

Never leave a candle burning unattended. Burning a candle at the dinner table is usually very safe, however people may light a candle in the bathroom or bedroom and leave the room, or even fall asleep while it is still burning.

Candle use in the bedroom is discouraged. Almost half of all candle fires start in the bedroom. It is easy for a curtain, clothing, or bedding to catch the flame. The general rule of thumb is to keep the candle at least 1 meter away from anything flammable, and away from windows to avoid a breeze catching the flame.

Ensure your candle holders are appropriate. Candle holders should be sturdy, made of non-flammable material, and capable of catching dripping wax. It is important to keep candle holders clear of clutter, and away from the edges of furniture. The wick of the candle should also be clipped to approximately a quarter of an inch before it is lit.

Use flashlights and battery-powered light sources if the power goes out. While candles can provide an electricity-free source of light, it is easy to trip and drop the candle while walking in the dark.

Carbon Monoxide F.A.Q.

NOTE: If your carbon monoxide detector goes off, or you believe you may be experiencing symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning (see below), immediately exit the building or vehicle and dial 9-1-1.

Below are some answers to commonly asked questions that can help you stay aware of the signs and dangers of Carbon Monoxide:

Q: What is the Source of Carbon Monoxide?

A: Carbon Monoxide, or CO is produced by the incomplete combustion of fuels, such as natural gas, propane, heating oil, kerosene, coal, charcoal, gasoline and wood. This problem can occur in any device that depends on burning fuel for heat or energy, such as furnaces, boilers, room heaters, hot water heaters, stoves, grills, and any internal combustion engine.

Q: What makes Carbon Monoxide so dangerous?

A: Carbon Monoxide is an odourless, colourless gas which is extremely toxic. It is because of these properties that it is known as the “Silent Killer”. When Carbon Monoxide is inhaled, it produces an effect known as Chemical Asphyxiation. The Carbon Monoxide combines with hemoglobin in the blood, lowering the bloods oxygen carrying capacity. Even at very low parts per million (ppm), the body will quickly experience oxygen starvation. Exposure to Carbon Monoxide while sleeping is especially dangerous, as the victim usually does not wake up.

Q: What level of Carbon Monoxide in the air can be harmful to me?

A: This can vary depending on the length of exposure and an individuals health conditions. Most people will not experience any symptoms under 70 parts per million (ppm), however those with heart may experience some chest pain. over 70 ppm is when symptoms may become noticeable, and at 150-200 ppm you may start to experience disorientation, and exposure may be fatal.

Q: What are the symptoms of Carbon Monoxide poisoning?

A: Carbon Monoxide poisoning can strike quickly or build up over time. Initially the symptoms of Carbon Monoxide poisoning are similar to flu symptoms: Headache, nausea, and fatigue. However with increased exposure the symptoms become more severe, taking the form of drowsiness and confusion. Continued exposure can lead to brain damage, and death.

Q: How big of a problem is Carbon Monoxide poisoning?

A: The U.S. Consumer of Product Safety Commission (C.P.S.C.) has stated that Carbon Monoxide is the largest cause of accidental poisoning in the American home. At least 250 people die in the U.S. each year from Carbon Monoxide poisoning and many more are hospitalized.

However, the Mayo Clinic published a report in 1984 that indicated much higher numbers, where more than 1,500 people die from Carbon Monoxide poisoning annually and that 10,000+ people receive medical treatment. It claims the numbers are higher due to the reporting and recording procedures for Carbon Monoxide poisoning being unreliable.

Q: Why is Carbon Monoxide a larger problem now?

A: Years ago, homes were built to have natural air leakage/circulation. Today, homes are “super-insulated”, sealed and wrapped in plastic. This creates an environment that not only captures and holds pollutants like Carbon Monoxide, but also creates a “negative indoor pressure” that can draw pollutants back into the home.

Q: What are some common causes of Carbon Monoxide buildup in a residence?

A: The most common causes of Carbon Monoxide buildup in a home are blocked/poorly ventilated fireplace chimneys or furnace flue, faulty or damaged heating equipment (especially cracked furnace heat exchanges), malfunctioning space heaters, and automobile or lawn mower exhaust in garages with poor ventilation.

Q: Is natural gas more likely to be a source of Carbon Monoxide than other fuels?

A: When properly installed and maintained, your natural gas furnace and hot water heater do not emit Carbon Monoxide. Natural gas is knows as a “clean burning” fuel because under correct operating conditions, the combustion byproducts are water vapour and Carbon Dioxide which are not toxic. The exhaust from furnaces and water heaters is vented outside through a flue duct or chimney.

Q: Where should the Carbon Monoxide detector be placed in the home?

A: Detectors should be placed in close proximity to bedrooms. They may also be placed in the furnace room or other areas of residence where Carbon Monoxide may accumulate.

Electrical Fire Safety

An electrical fire can happen at any time, and is usually the result of fault outlets and appliances, light fixtures with incorrect wattage, extension cords, space heaters, and outdated wiring/breaker boxes in homes.

Electrical Do’s and Don’ts

NEVER:

  • Replace a fuse with one that has a rating higher than required
  • Use appliances or lamps with cracked or frayed cords
  • Run extension cords under carpet or mats. Do no crimp the cord
  • Overload an outlet. Prevent the dreaded “Octopus Outlet”. Be aware that heat generating appliances draw more power than others.
  • Put heat generating appliances closer than 1 meter to anything that can burn
  • Use light bulbs that exceed a lamps maximum wattage
  • Clip off the round grounding prong from an electrical plug\Use an electrical device or appliance after liquid as been spilled on it before having it checked thoroughly

ALWAYS:

  • Follow-up when a fuse or circuit breaker blows. Do not just reset the breaker or replace the fuse. Find out what caused the problem
  • Purchase appliances that are approved by the Canadian Standards Association (C.S.A.). Appliances that are not approved by the C.S.A. may not be safe to use
  • Put lamps on level surfaces, away from curtains or other flammable items
  • Allow adequate ventilation around electronic components that generate heat, such as TV’s and audio equipment
  • Unplug small appliances like toasters and coffeemakers when they are not in use
  • Use only weatherproof lights and other electrical fixtures outdoors

Electrical Fire Warning Signs

It is always best to prevent a fire before it is started. There are a few signs that you can look out for that may indicate a fault in your home’s electrical system, such as recurring blown fuses or circuit breakers, burning smell/rubbery odour from an appliance, discolouration in your wall outlet, and flickering lights.

Fire Extinguishers

“Fighting Small Fires”

Fire Extinguishers can be used to put out or contain small fires before they become big fires, but only if you know to use them. Before considering using a portable fire extinguisher, make sure you have access to a clear exit, and ensure you are using the right extinguisher for the right type of fire you are trying to put out. Check out our section on Types of Fires below for more information.

It is important to inspect your portable fire extinguishers once a month to ensure there is no damage that could render them unusable, and that they are properly charged (see manufacturer’s instructions for details). If you use an extinguisher it must be recharged by a professional. If it is a disposable unit, throw it out.

Types of Fires

Type A: Ordinary Combustibles – Include common household items such as paper, wood, and cloth.

Type B: Flammable Liquids – Includes substances such as gasoline, cooking oils or fats (type K), oil-based paints, and kerosene. NOTE: never use a Type A extinguisher on flammable liquids. It is more likely to spread the fire and make it worse, or splash burning liquid onto you.

Type C: Electrical Equipment – Include wall outlets, power cords, small and large appliances, wiring and fuse boxes. When these devices are powered they may produce heat or sparks. It is ideal to use a non-liquid based extinguishing agent on electrical equipment as the liquid can damage the appliances.

Type D: Combustible Metals – Includes metals such as magnesium, titanium, potassium and sodium, and require extinguishing agents that will not react with the combusting metal in a negative way.

How to Use an Extinguisher

P.A.S.S. is a simple acronym used to remember the steps necessary to effectively use a portable fire extinguisher. Before using an extinguisher make sure everyone else has left the area and that the 9-1-1 has been called. Make sure you are approximately 3 meters away from the fire, then follow P.A.S.S.:

Pull the Pin. The pin is there as a safeguard and locks the handle. Pulling the pin out enables the extinguisher to be used.

Aim Low. The hose or nozzle should be pointed at the base of the fire to best put it out.

Squeeze the lever above the handle. This will expel the extinguishing agent from the hose or nozzle. Keep in mind that most small extinguishers will run out of their extinguishing agent in 10-25 seconds.

Sweep from side to side. As you move slowly towards the fire, keep the hose or nozzle aimed at the base of the fire. If the flames appear to be going out, release the handle and watch closely to see if it ignites again. If so, repeat the process.

Book a Fire Extinguisher Presentation

The Petrolia & North Enniskillen Fire Department will provide extinguisher instruction to your group or workforce. To find out more, please contact our department.

Fire Safety for Micro & Small Businesses

Fire Inspections

Are you opening a new business? If so, you will need to organize a Fire Inspection by one of our Fire Chiefs. Please feel free to contact our department to organize a fire inspection for your business.

A Message from the Fire Prevention Division

The Petrolia & North Enniskillen Fire Department knows how vital small and micro businesses are to the community, including the “Homepreneur”. With this in mind, we offer the following Fire Code and safety checks to assist owners and staff in maintaining a safe environment:

Replace cracked or frayed electrical cords Never pinch electrical cords under furniture or run them under carpets, across doorways, or any place where they can be stepped on or damaged. Do not plug one extension cord into another, or plug more than one extension cord into an outlet. Unplug any electrical equipment that overheats or gives off unusual odours and get it repaired. Have routine electrical inspections by a qualified electrician, and always use C.S.A./U.L.C. approved products.

Enforce smoking rules. If smoking is allowed, designate smoking areas and be sure staff and clients are aware of the restrictions. Post “NO SMOKING” signs, and provide large, deep, non-tip ashtrays. Dispose of the contents often, wetting them before dumping into metal containers.

Perform regular maintenance on heating, ventilating, and air conditioners. Ensure they are working properly. This includes solid fuel burning appliances such as wood stoves and fireplaces.

Eliminate clutter and maintain exits. Keep combustible materials from accumulating in quantities or in locations that may constitute a fire hazard. keep them away from devices that produce heat. Keep emergency doors closed, but not locked from the inside. Never wedge them open. Keep exits clear and be sure that the EXIT signs are visible at all times.

Store flammable liquids outside your vicinity in a well ventilated area. Always use approved storage containers, and never store flammable liquids in glass. Handle flammable liquids with care and follow the instructions on containers. Gasoline is only to be used as motor fuel, not as a cleaning agent.

Install and maintain smoke Detectors. They should be on every level of your establishment, and away from cooking areas to avoid false alarms. Test the smoke detectors monthly and install new batteries once a year or when you hear a “chirp” noise coming from your detector. Be sure to clean them regularly according to the manufacturers instruction, and replace your detector if it is more than 10 years old.

Keep and maintain a multipurpose (types A, B, and C) fire extinguisher on a wall at eye level and near an exit. Train staff members to operate a portable fire extinguisher. Extinguishers can be purchased from hardware stores, department stores, and fire service equipment companies.

For more detailed information on these fire safety tips, or to arrange a fire inspection and ask about other Fire Code requirements, please contact our department.

Hazardous Materials in the Home

The term “hazardous materials” is most often associated with things like chemical dumps, trains, and trucks hauling dangerous cargo, as well as leaks of substances that force large scale evacuations. But think about what you are keeping in your cupboards, medicine cabinets, garages, and basements and you will find your home contains many hazardous materials, from hairspray and rubbing alcohol to bleach and other household cleaners. It is essential to know the dangers posed by improper use and storage of these products and to treat them with caution.

Generally, hazardous materials are placed into four groups, many of which can fall under more than one category. The following symbols are often included on consumer products that are potentially harmful:

For more detailed information, check out the descriptions of each symbol below:

Flammable

Anything that poses a threat of fire during routine use. Aerosol cans are among the most common items that can be lethal if used near heat sources or an open flame. They should be kept far away from children and stored away from stoves, furnaces and hot water heaters. These substances must be stored in containers that are designed to prevent spills or vapours from igniting and should be kept outside the home in a shed or garage that can be locked. Ensure these products are used in well ventilated. If these products are used on a cloth or towel, do not put the cloth into the dryer, as the heat may cause ignition.

Explosive

The most common explosives found in households are propellants or fuels kept in pressurized containers. This includes aerosol cans, propane tanks and butane fillers for cigarette lighters. Certain substances that are safe when used alone can be extremely dangerous if mixed together (e.g., the chemical reaction of vinegar and baking soda in a sealed container). Never dispose of potentially explosive materials into apartment building incinerators. If you detect the smell of natural gas in your home, if if you suspect there is a gas leak, leave the building and call the gas company immediately.

Corrosive

Many household cleaning items such as oven and drain cleaners are hazardous to the skin and eyes, as well as the environment,. Read the product labels carefully and follow any safety precautions suggested, such as wearing rubber gloves to protect your skin. Some corrosives can give off harmful vapours, especially when they are mixed together. Many scrubbing and dish washing detergents contain chlorine and bleach, which can produce toxic gas if combined with ammonia, lye or other acids. A corrosive can eat away at an improper container. Styrofoam cups and some plastics are not suitable storage containers for paint thinners and other corrosives.

Poisonous

The “Skull and Crossbones” signifies toxic materials that can release poison/toxins in sufficient quantities to harm a person. Toxicity means the substance can enter the body by ingestion, absorbed through the skin, or inhaled into the lungs. the effect could be immediate or build up over time. Some substances are only toxic in large quantities, such as certain medicines. Read the label and follow the instructions for proper use of the product.

Consumer Symbols

Combined with Consumer symbols (see below), the classification images communicate the type and extent to which a substance may be harmful. The label may tell you about precautions to take when using the product, as well as common injuries that may come from improper use. A list of active ingredients can help a health care provider or Poison Information Centre to treat someone affected by the product. Often the label will also provide proper ways to store and dispose of the product.

In the event of an injury, call 9-1-1. Try to keep the person calm and in one place. If the injury is due to ingestion of a poisonous product, call your local Poison Information Center.

Holiday and Celebration Fire Safety

With the holiday season comes festive lights, candles, decorations, and drinks. It is important to apply safe practices of these festive commodities so you can enjoy your time with friends and family. See our sections on electrical fire safety and candle safety for more detail.

If you enjoy having a real Christmas tree in your home during the season, ensure the tree is fresh when you pick it up. the tree will dry out, and with all the lights and decorations it can easily become a fire hazard. Be sure to wear flame deterrent costumes and clothing.

Home Smoke Alarms

“Working Smoke Alarms Save Lives”

The majority of fatal home fires happen at night when people are sleeping. Contrary to popular belief, the smell of smoke may not wake a sleeping person. the poisonous gases and smoke produced by a fire can numb the senses and put you into a deeper sleep.

Inexpensive household smoke alarms alert you to a fire and allow you the time you need to escape before the emergency gets out of control, and nearly double your chance of avoiding personal harm. Follow these tips to ensure your home is properly equipped.

Where to Install

Every home should have a smoke alarm outside each sleeping area on every level of the home, including the basement. On floors without bedrooms, alarms should be installed in or near living areas, such a dens, living rooms, or family rooms. Be sure everyone sleeping in your home can hear the alarm, even if they are hearing impaired or with the door closed. There are special smoke alarms for the hearing impaired that flash a light in addition to sounding an audible alarm. They are also recommended in furnace rooms or utility rooms, however they are not recommended for kitchens, bathrooms or garages where cooking/exhaust fumes or steam could set off false alarms.

Because smoke rises, mount the alarms high on the wall or on the ceiling, depending on the manufacturer. For stairways that do not have doors at the top or bottom, position the alarm in the path the smoke will travel up the stairs. If the stairway is closed, such as basement stairs, always position the alarm at the bottom of the stairs, as dead air near the top may prevent the alarm from detecting smoke.

Do not install a smoke alarm too close to a window, door, or forced-air register where drafts could interfere with the alarms operation. For the best results, follow the printed instructions that come with the smoke alarm.

Installation & Maintenance

Most battery-powered smoke alarms and alarms that plug into wall outlets can be installed using only a drill and a screwdriver by following the manufacturer’s instructions. Plug-in alarms must have restraining devices so they cannot be unplugged by accident. Alarms can also be hardwired into a building’s electrical system. Hard- wired alarms should be installed by a qualified electrician. Never connect a smoke alarm to a circuit that can be turned off by a wall switch.

Never disable an alarm by borrowing its battery for another use. Clean your smoke alarm using a vacuum cleaner without removing the alarms cover. Never paint over a smoke alarm, and make sure you replace your smoke alarms every 10 years.

False Alarms

Cooking vapours and steam sometimes set off a smoke alarm. To correct this, try moving the alarm away from the kitchen or bathroom or install an exhaust fan. Cleaning your alarm regularly, according to the manufacturer’s instructions, may also help. There are also alarms available that have hush buttons that will silence them for a short period of time as cooking or a shower takes place. If “nuisance alarms” persist, do not disable the alarm. Replace it!

Fun Links for Kids!

Elmer the Safety Elephant
http://www.elmer.ca/

Sparky the Fire Dog
http://www.sparky.org/

CPR Staying Alive

The Uh-Ohs

Check out our Microgame, built in-house!

Click the link below to play our game about fire extinguisher safety:

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