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Fire Safety Tips

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Kingston Fire and Rescue is dedicated to fire prevention. Here are some important tips to keep you and your loved ones safe from fires.

Home fire safety self-inspection

This inspection covers 15 essential fire safety tips to protect you, your family and your housemates from residential fires and injuries. Completing this checklist can help ensure everyone's safety.

Babysitting safety

When babysitting, it is crucial to be ready and understand what to do in case of a fire.

Be Prepared:

    • Know the address where you are babysitting
    • Have a list of emergency contacts, including:
        • The adults who hired you
        • Another number for a neighbor, family member, etc.
        • 9-1-1

Ask the adults who hired you about the household's fire escape plan.

Supervise the children when they are awake and check on them often when they are in bed. Once they are asleep, stay close enough to hear them if they wake up. If there is a fire, you will know where they are, and it will be easier to help them escape.

  • Avoid smoking.
  • Keep matches and lighters out of children's reach.
  • Maintain a three-foot distance between space heaters and flammable items.
  • Keep heating sources away from children.
  • Obtain permission before cooking and establish a "kid-free zone" around the stove.
  • Turn pot handles inward to prevent children from grabbing them.
  • Stay in the kitchen while cooking; avoid leaving unattended.
  • Follow cooking instructions carefully.
  • Keep the kitchen clutter-free to prevent fire hazards.

  • Stay calm in a fire emergency.
  • Your first task is to evacuate everyone outside.
  • Once outside, gather at the designated meeting area (e.g., the tree in the front yard).
  • Do not re-enter the building for any reason.
  • Call 9-1-1 using a neighbour's phone or your cell phone.
  • Provide the fire department with the exact address of the fire.
  • Stay on the phone until instructed to hang up.
  • Contact the adults who hired you for further instructions or information.

Canadian Red Cross Babysitting Courses

    • Participants learn to provide care to children in different age groups
    • Covers how to prevent and respond to emergencies
    • Suitable for ages 11 and up

St. John Ambulance - Babysitting Basics

    • Teaches new babysitters skills for caring for infants, toddlers and preschoolers.
    • Information provided by the Office of The Fire Marshal and Emergency Management Ontario
    • Suitable for ages 11 to 14

Carbon monoxide safety

Carbon monoxide is called the "silent killer" because it is a deadly gas that you cannot see, tasten or smell. It forms when fuel-burning appliances like those using natural gas, oil, wood, propane, or kerosene do not have enough air to burn completely. When this happens, carbon monoxide can build up, especially in small spaces, and harm humans and pets.

Most households have, on average, four to six appliances that produce carbon monoxide some examples are:

    • Furnace
    • Gas water heater
    • Gas fireplace
    • Gas stove
    • Gas dryer
    • Gas barbecue
    • Portable generators
    • Fuel-burning space heaters

Breathing in carbon monoxide can make you feel like you have the flu, with headaches, nausea, and dizziness. It can get worse, causing confusion, sleepiness, and even be deadly. If your carbon monoxide alarm goes off and someone feels sick, leave the house right away and call 9-1-1 from outside.

If the alarm beeps but no one feels sick, check if the battery needs changing or if the alarm is too old before calling 9-1-1. Remember, carbon monoxide alarms cannot tell if there is a fire, and smoke alarms can't detect carbon monoxide, so make sure you have both kinds in your home to stay safe.

Make sure to have professionals check and clean fuel-burning appliances, chimneys, and vents every year before it gets cold. Keep vents for the dryer, furnace, stove, fireplace, and other appliances clear of snow and debris. Use gas and charcoal barbecues outside, away from doors, windows and vents — never inside garages. When using portable generators, place them outdoors in well-ventilated areas away from openings.

Make sure portable heaters are vented correctly as per the manufacturer's instructions. Do not use the stove or oven for heating. Before using a fireplace, open the flu for good ventilation. Never run a vehicle or any fuel-powered machines inside a garage, even if the doors are open; always move the vehicle out right after starting it.

Perform a monthly test on carbon monoxide alarms using the test button. Replace batteries annually and follow the manufacturer's instructions for replacing carbon monoxide alarms.

If your home has things like a fireplace or a garage, put a carbon monoxide alarm near where people sleep (in the hallway or area outside bedrooms). This is important if you have appliances like heaters, stoves, or even cars that run on fuel.

If you live in an apartment or condo, do the same, and, place alarms near common areas like service rooms or garages.

For extra safety, have an alarm on every floor, following the instructions that come with it. Always follow the rules about where to put the alarms, like keeping them away from things and following the product’s instructions. 

Construction fire safety

Bigger construction projects, like buildings taller than two storeys or larger than 600 square meters (about the area of a basketball court), need special fire safety attention.

The five main causes of construction-site fires are:

    • Incendiary or suspicious activities
    • Smoking
    • Open flames
    • Embers
    • Heating equipment

Examine the Occupational Health & Safety Act (OHSA) for construction safety rules on building sites. Determine if the existing safety measures are enough to protect lives, property and your business reputation during emergencies. Safeguard your development project by setting up a proactive risk management program. Introduce a fire safety program to better handle the risk of fire during construction.

Implement a fire safety plan:

    • Ensure there is enough water available.
    • Have supervision on-site.
    • Enforce a no-smoking policy.
    • Use a hot-work permit system.
    • Employ closed-flame heating appliances.
    • Develop a plan to limit exposed combustible construction.
    • Provide portable fire extinguishers.

Ensure all construction staff know how to use fire extinguishers, teaching them the PASS method:

    • Pull out the safety pin.
    • Aim at the base of the fire.
    • Squeeze the trigger.
    • Sweep at the base of the fire.

Place extinguishers visibly and accessible throughout the project.

Evaluate the risk:

    • Identify potential fire-prone areas on your site.
    • Ensure your employees are trained in fire safety.
    • Confirm there are sufficient exits.
    • Maintain a clean and tidy work site.
    • Clearly mark exits and ensure well-lit, unobstructed egress routes.

Implement safety measures:

    • Enforce a clean floor policy, storing materials away from buildings.
    • Position office and temporary structures a safe distance from projects.
    • Guarantee fire department access around the clock.
    • Regularly assess exposure protection.

Secure your site:

    • Install perimeter fencing with a controlled access point.
    • Utilize a security service after hours.
    • Implement perimeter lighting and security cameras.

Risk management:

    • Appoint a site fire manager.
    • Conduct daily inspections.
    • Designate responsibilities for fire safety.
    • Develop a comprehensive plan covering:
        • Site organization and supervision.
        • Emergency procedures, including alarms and notifying services.
        • Methods for controlling fire hazards.
        • Maintenance of fire and life safety equipment.
        • Training plans for staff on evacuation.
        • Emergency evacuation drills.

  • Regularly put your plans into action and test them.
  • Reach out to Kingston Fire and Rescue for help with pre-emergency planning.
  • Refer to these resources for more fire safety information in construction projects:
      • National Building Code.
      • National Fire Code.
      • National Fire Protection Association - Standard for Safeguarding. Construction, Alteration, and Demolition Operations.

Home fire safety

Kingston Fire and Rescue Services is committed to fire prevention through:

    • Performing fire inspections to verify the presence and maintenance of necessary fire prevention and safety measures.
    • Collaborating with businesses, organizations, and event planners to ensure comprehension of fire safety and prevention measures related to their activities.
    • Educating the public on fire safety and prevention measures.

Learn more about how to plan a home escape.

  • Ensure cords are in good condition, free from fraying or nicks, to prevent potential shock or fire hazards.
  • Avoid placing cords under rugs, as this can damage them and lead to fire risks.
  • Use extension cords temporarily; for permanent wiring needs, consult a licensed electrician to install additional outlets. Do not link extension cords; instead, use a sufficiently long cord.
  • Prevent circuit overloads by avoiding 'octopus outlets.' If more outlets are needed, consult a licensed electrician.
  • A hot cord or plug indicates an overloaded circuit; address this issue promptly.
  • Plug air conditioners, space heaters, and heavy appliances directly into outlets. If that is not possible, use a 14-gauge three-wire, grounding-type appliance extension cord.
  • When replacing fuses, ensure they have the correct amperage to avoid fire hazards. Never substitute a higher amp fuse for a smaller one.

  • Use the right-sized heater for the space.
  • Use the right fuel for your heater and make sure it is ventilated.
  • Annually inspect your heating system, including kerosene and gas space heaters, with a qualified technician to minimize fire and carbon monoxide risks.
  • Install a carbon monoxide alarm to warn of deadly carbon monoxide gas.
  • Regularly clean chimneys and flue pipes to prevent creosote buildup, a common cause of chimney fires.
  • Use a properly fitted fire screen around the fireplace.
  • Watch for smoke in the room, as it may indicate a chimney blockage or faulty damper control.
  • Allow woodstove or fireplace ashes to cool before placing them in a metal container with a tight lid, kept outside.
  • Keep space heaters at least three feet away from anything that can burn, such as curtains, upholstery, clothing, flammable liquids and people.
  • Keep a charged fire extinguisher at home.

Air out fuel-burning heaters:

    • Keep doors open if using an unvented fuel-burning space heater.
    • Follow the maker's instructions for fresh air.

Air out kerosene heaters:

    • Give kerosene heaters enough air to prevent breathing problems.
    • Don't rely on a heater as the only heat source
    • Never leave a heater alone

Keep Kids and Pets Safe:

    • Turn off heaters when you sleep or leave
    • Keep kids and pets away from heaters

Always watch your cooking; never leave it alone.

    • If a pot catches fire, cover it with a lid and turn off the stove. Do not use water and call for help.
    • Wear close-fitting clothes to avoid accidental burns.
    • Learn how to use a fire extinguisher for small fires.
    • Keep combustible items away from the stove to prevent fires.
    • If you get burned, cool the area with water and seek medical help for severe burns.
    • Use controlled deep fryers to avoid overheating and fires.
    • Do not overload electrical outlets and keep heat-producing appliances away from flammable items.
    • Avoid cooking if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
    • Follow Ontario law by having working smoke alarms on every level and outside sleeping areas. Test them monthly and change batteries regularly.

Holiday fire safety

More fires and accidents happen during the holidays. Celebrations can become dangerous because of cooking being left alone, broken lights and not being careful with candles. To keep your family safe, Kingston Fire and Rescue has important tips for you. They could save lives during the holidays.

Always have the bottom of the tree in water. Make sure your tree is far from things that can start a fire, like a fireplace, heaters or candles.

Check lights for damage before using. Do not connect more than three strings together and avoid mixing LED with regular lights to prevent wear and reduce the risk of fire or electrical hazards.

Do not overload circuits with too many plugs or extension cords; it can cause overheating and a fire risk. Never hide cords under rugs.

Always stay in the kitchen and pay attention when cooking, especially with oil or high temperatures. Avoid drinking alcohol while cooking. If a pot catches fire, carefully slide a tight-fitting lid over it to smother the flames, and then turn off the heat.

Outdoor fire safety

Stay safe outdoors! Whether you are camping, grilling or enjoying a bonfire, follow these tips for outdoor fire safety.

Store right:

    • Keep propane tanks outside and standing up to stop leaks
    • Propane smells weird, so if you smell it, be careful

Outdoor only:

    • Use and store propane outside because it is heavy and can be dangerous.
    • Don't keep propane inside; it is against the rules

Barbecue care:

    • Check barbecue parts for rust and clean them
    • Check for leaks with soapy water

Connect safely:

    • Turn the propane hose left to tighten it
    • Change 'O' rings if they're bent or old

Outside cooking:

    • Cook with gas barbecues outside for fresh air
    • Open propane tanks a little bit for enough gas

Safe start:

    • Light matches or a lighter before turning on the barbecue
    • Use long tools and avoid loose clothes

Good spot:

    • Keep the barbecue 10 feet away from things that can catch fire
    • Don't move a lit barbecue

Turn off right:

    • Close the propane tank first, then the barbecue valve
    • Stay with the barbecue; don't leave it alone

Check every season:

    • Make sure the barbecue is rust-free before starting
    • Follow the manual for how to use and care for it

Travel safe:

    • Carry propane tanks standing up in the car
    • Put them on the car floor with the windows open

Start smart:

    • Do not use gas; use charcoal fluid to light
    • Let fluid soak before lighting to be safe

Careful lighting:

    • Stand back when lighting and check for spills
    • Do not spray fluid on hot coals

End Safely:

    • Wear oven mitts to take out hot coals
    • Put coal in water to make sure they're out

Keep Kids and Pets Away:

    • Make sure children and pets stay away from barbecues and fire

Fireworks are only allowed during specific times:

    • Victoria Day: Dusk to 11:00 p.m.
    • The day before Victoria Day: Dusk to 11:00 p.m.
    • Canada Day: Dusk to 11:00 p.m.
    • The day before Canada Day: Dusk to 11:00 p.m.
    • New Year’s Eve: Dusk to 12:30 a.m.
    • Authorized by the Chief Fire Official

Safety tips for family fireworks:

    • Purchase responsibly - buy fireworks from a reliable source.
    • Read and follow instructions.
    • Consider the wind - Check wind conditions and position fireworks away from spectators.
    • Safe Storage - keep fireworks in a closed box and take them out one at a time, then close the box.
    • Maintain distance - keep everyone at least 25ft away from the fireworks.
    • Keep all pets indoors during fireworks.
    • Age Limit - only individuals aged 18 or older should handle fireworks.
    • Outdoor use only - use fireworks outdoors only.
    • Have water (hose or bucket) nearby.
    • Adhere to Burning Bans and do not use fireworks during open-air burning bans.
    • Never experiment or make your own fireworks.
    • Light one firework at a time.
    • Wear eye protection and gloves.
    • Light at arm's length and step back immediately.
    • Do not pick up or re-light a "dud" firework for at least 30 minutes.
    • Do not give sparklers to children and soak sparklers in water before discarding.
    • Dispose of fireworks by soaking them in water and putting them in the trash.
    • Put discarded sparklers in a bucket of water
    • Never throw or point fireworks at people.
    • Do not carry fireworks in your pocket.
    • Never hold a lit firework in your hand.
    • Avoid shooting fireworks in metal or glass containers.
    • Illegal explosives warning - stay away from illegal explosives, "firecrackers" are unsafe and illegal.

Gasoline refuelling precautions:

    • Turn off the vehicle's engine and let the machinery cool before refuelling.
    • Stay three meters away from ignition sources and no smoking during refuelling.
    • Do not use gasoline as a cleaner or solvent.
    • Never use gasoline to start or enhance a fire; it can ignite the container.
    • Do not use water on a gasoline fire; use a fire extinguisher.
    • Keep gasoline outdoors; never use it indoors.
    • Avoid pouring gasoline on the ground or into drains; it contaminates and may cause fires.
    • Take unwanted gasoline to a hazardous waste disposal center.

 Gasoline storage guidelines:

    • Store gasoline in approved containers or tanks
    • Avoid glass or unapproved containers for gasoline storage
    • Keep gasoline in a detached garage or shed away from heat sources.
    • Never leave gasoline containers in direct sunlight or car trunks.
    • Fill containers up to 95% full to allow for expansion
    • Tighten both the fill cap and vent cap after filling the container.

  • Purchase generators with recognized approval labels such as ULC or CSA.
  • Professional Installation - hire a licensed contractor for proper installation and use approved transfer devices for connecting to the household electrical system.
  • Have standby generator installations inspected by the Electrical Safety Authority.
  • Install and use generators according to the manufacturer's guidelines.
  • Use portable generators outdoors only to prevent exhaust fumes from entering the home.
  • Install carbon monoxide alarms on every floor for added protection.
  • Let the generator cool down before refuelling.
  • Refuel the generator outside, following the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Store fuel in approved containers outside the home.

Personal fire safety

Stay safe and prevent fires at home with these personal fire safety tips. From cooking and smoking precautions to proper use of electrical appliances, these simple measures can make a big difference in keeping you and your loved ones protected. Explore the essentials of fire safety to ensure a secure living environment for everyone.

Do not risk fire incidents! Cooking or smoking under the influence of alcohol can be dangerous and lead to fire-related tragedies. Ensure your safety and that of your family with these tips:

    • Avoid cooking or smoking when under the influence of alcohol.
    • Before bedtime, make sure the stove is turned off.
    • Double-check that cigarettes are completely out and put them in the right place.
    • Look between sofa cushions for any dropped cigarettes that could cause a fire.
    • Never smoke in bed or when you are feeling sleepy and never when taking medication that causes drowsiness.
    • Test smoke alarms every month for your safety.
    • Change smoke alarm batteries when adjusting clocks for daylight savings time.
    • If someone smokes, ask them to do it outside.
    • Do not put out cigarettes in plant pots; they can catch fire easily.
    • Use big, deep ashtrays that will not tip over.
    • Put ashes in a metal container, not the trash, and leave it outside.

Help keep children safe by following these simple steps:

    • Keep matches and lighters out of children's sight and reach.
    • If you smoke, have only one lighter or matchbook, and keep it with you.
    • Instruct little ones not to touch matches or lighters. They should tell an adult if they find them.
    • Teach older kids to give matches or lighters to an adult if they find them.
    • If parents are concerned about their child's involvement in unsafe fire activities, contact Kingston Fire and Rescue for help.

Power outage safety

During a power outage, use alternative lighting, cooking and heating carefully. Fire and life safety systems may not work. Review the information below to stay safe.

  • Use flashlights or chemical light sticks instead of candles. If using candles, place them in secure holders with glass chimneys, away from combustibles.
  • Keep candles out of reach of children and pets.
  • Never walk with a lit candle or leave it unattended.
  • Extinguish candles before leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Refill lamps outdoors, away from people and combustibles.

You should have at least one telephone (not cordless) that works during a power failure.

Student fire safety

If you are living on your own or with friends for the first time, take a few minutes to learn these fire safety basics.

Sometimes, things might be broken or don’t work correctly, so use these lists to check for fire hazards and make sure you can get out of your home quickly in case of an emergency.

Lights:

    • Check that all switches turn the lights on and off inside and outside

Windows:

    • Open all windows to see if they work okay and stay open
    • Make sure the windows can lock in safety

Doors:

    • Make sure all doors open and close properly
    • Add a lock to the outside doors, but one that you can open from inside with a knob, not a key.

Kitchen:

    • See if all kitchen things work okay and are clean
    • Make sure everyone knows how to use the kitchen stuff safely

Bathroom:

    • Check if everything in the bathroom works, like hot and cold water
    • Look for leaks or drips from the faucets

Before moving in, find out what safety equipment your landlord provides. Here is what to look for:

Smoke alarms:

    • The landlord must have installed working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.
    • Smoke alarms should be on every floor of the home.
    • Check the manufacturing date; alarms older than 10 years should be replaced.
    • Carbon monoxide alarms are required near bedrooms if there's fossil fuel use or an attached garage.
    • Check the carbon monoxide alarm's manufacturing date to ensure it is not expired, as some have a lifespan of five, seven, or ten years depending on the brand.

What to do if something's not right:

    • If there is a significant issue, like a missing or non-working smoke alarm, report it immediately.
    • For routine maintenance items, add them to your checklist and inform your landlord.
    • Share your concerns with the landlord first; if they do not respond, contact Kingston Fire and Rescue at 613-548-4001, ext. 5123 for life safety concerns.
    • If it is about a damaged light or broken plumbing fixture and your landlord does not address it, contact property standards at 613-546-4291.

Kingston Fire and Rescue recommends getting renters insurance - it is a smart move!

This affordable insurance can help if you lose your belongings, there is a fire, or if you accidentally cause damage. Also, some parents' homeowner's policies might offer protection for students living on campus.

Cooking-related emergencies, especially involving food left unattended and grease fires, are common reasons for emergency calls received by Kingston Fire & Rescue. Here are some important lessons to prevent such incidents:

Lesson one: never leave cooking unattended

Most cooking-related fires happen when cooking is left unattended. By paying attention to cooking basics, these fires are highly preventable.

Lesson two: don't cook when impaired

Cooking late at night can be risky, especially if the chef is drunk or impaired. Impairment leads to distraction or falling asleep, allowing food to cook unattended or leaving the heat source on.

Lesson three: call 911, even if you put the fire out

If a fire occurs and you manage to put it out, still call 911. Sometimes, fires may not be fully extinguished, creating hidden hazards. Disabling a smoke alarm to silence it can be dangerous, as it may lead to overlooking potential risks.

Remember, only working smoke alarms save lives. Never disable them and stay vigilant to ensure everyone's safety.

The City of Kingston acknowledges that we are on the traditional homeland of the Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee and the Huron-Wendat, and thanks these nations for their care and stewardship over this shared land.

Today, the City is committed to working with Indigenous peoples and all residents to pursue a united path of reconciliation.

Learn more about the City's reconciliation initiatives.

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