The winter season is the worst season for fires in Canada. That is why all Canadians must be mindful of the importance of fire prevention and safety. During the winter, we must heat our homes, most of our meals are prepared and eaten indoors, our clothing is dried indoors and people who smoke tend to do so indoors.

 Besides following the advice provided for in the other fact sheets on this site, for the winter remember that:

• Heating appliances such as space heaters should not have anything combustible close-by and need at least one metre (three feet) of space around them. Inspect the electrical cord attached. If it overheats, you have a fire hazard. Keep young children away from them.

• Electrical and heating systems can fail and become fire hazards. Ensure they are regularly checked by a professional, especially prior to the winter season when fireplaces, heaters, appliances and other electrical equipment are in maximum use.

• Smoking while in bed, tired or under the influence of alcohol or medication is the most common cause of fires that kill.

• Most chimney fires occur with wood-burning fireplaces. Ensure chimneys are cleaned and professionally inspected regularly. Burn only small quantities of wood at a time.

• Teach children that fire is not a toy; it is a tool we use to cook food and heat our homes.

• Educate your children about the dangers of fire and make sure they know that all fires, even small ones, can spread very quickly.

• Never use a flammable liquid near a flame or source of spark. Be aware of hidden sources like water heater pilot lights, electric motors or heaters. Never smoke while pouring or using flammable liquids.

• If even a small doubt exists about any appliance/equipment that you use, do not hesitate to contact a qualified technician. It may save your life, and the lives of your loved ones.

Fireplace Safety

A Fireplace becomes dangerous when accumulated tar or creosote catches fire or from uncontrolled burning or over-fuelling. Other causes of fireplace-related fires are substandard design or installation and lack of safety precautions.

• Open the damper before lighting the fire, and keep it open until the ashes are cool enough to touch.

• Ensure the fire is completely out before going to bed or leaving the house.

• Do not store combustible materials such as paper or wood too close to the fireplace.

• Use a screen in front of the fireplace opening to protect children and to prevent embers from escaping and igniting carpets, etc.