Summer Fire Safety

Summer Fire Safety

Barbecues (BBQs)bbq

When buying a BBQ, choose one that bears the CSA, ITS or ULC label. Follow manufacturer’s instructions and have it repaired by a trained professional when necessary.

Getting Started Each Year

  • Propane cylinders must be inspected and re-certified every 10 years. Check your propane cylinder for date of manufacture.
  • Place your BBQ outside, on level ground, at least one metre (three feet) away from the house and away from wind and combustible materials.
  • BBQs should be inspected and cleaned at least once each year, preferably prior to the first use annually.
  • Make sure burners are in good condition. Burners that are rusted or damaged should be replaced.
  • Check the flexible hose. If you find cracks or damage, replace the hose before using the barbeque.
  • Clean the tubes underneath the burner – insects and debris can accumulate inside these tubes.
  • If your BBQ connection area has an “o” ring, check it every time you connect the cylinder. Replace missing, deformed, cracked or damaged “o” rings.

Checking for Leaks

  • After connecting a propane cylinder, check for leaks using a solution of equal parts soap and water.
  • With the appliance turned off, brush the solution over all connections. Open the cylinder valve and bubbles will form when there is a leak.
  • If you find a leak, close the cylinder valve and contact a certified gasfitter. After repairs are completed, repeat the leak test until there are no leaks.

Using your BBQ

  • When using a match, always light it before turning on the gas to prevent excessive gas build-up. If the barbeque is equipped with an electronic igniter, follow the directions on the control panel.
  • Both propane and natural gas flames should be mostly blue with yellow tips. If the flame is mostly yellow, do not use the BBQ. Contact a qualified gasfitter.
  • Prevent grease from dripping onto the hoses or cylinder. Grease build-up is a fire hazard.
  • Never store extra propane cylinders under or near your barbeque. Excess heat may overpressure the cylinder and cause it to release propane from the cylinder relief valve.
  • Make sure children stay away from the barbeque.
  • Never use a barbeque indoors; doing so causes a build-up of poisonous carbon monoxide gas.
  • After BBQ-ing, make sure the BBQ is turned off and the burner flames are out. Also make sure the gas supply is turned off and the lid is closed.



Every year, thousands of Canadians, mostly children, are hurt by consumer fireworks, such as sparklers and firecrackers. Fireworks also cause many fires, so please adhere to the following reminders for your celebrations. 

  • Research what permits are required by your municipality to use fireworks.
  • Purchase fireworks from reliable sources and always read and follow the manufacturer’s directions.
  • Prior to using your fireworks and sparklers, they should be kept out of reach of children, preferably in a locked cupboard or drawer. Keep children away when lighting fireworks.
  • Fireworks are never meant to be handheld, carried in a pocket, thrown or pointed at people.
  • Prior to ignition, fireworks should be buried at least halfway down into a bucket of sand or earth.  If portable firing bases are not available, plant them directly in the ground making sure each piece is firmly supported before igniting. Never shoot fireworks in metal or glass containers.
  • Always have water on hand (garden hose and bucket) to soak fireworks that continue to smolder after firing.
  • Light the fireworks at arm’s length, stand back and keep your face turned away. If a firework fails to ignite, do not attempt to re-light it. Let it sit in the base for several minutes and then douse it with water.
  • Sparklers should also be doused with water, or allowed to cool in a safe place away from children playing. The ends of sparklers continue to stay hot for some time, and will easily burn a child’s skin, clothing or nearby combustible material.  Do not use indoors.
  • Eye protection should always be worn when lighting fireworks; don’t lean over when lighting.

Storm/Natural Disaster Safety Tips

stormNatural disasters can have a devastating effect on you and your home. Use the following safety tips to help protect yourself, your family and your home from the potential threat of fire during or after a summer storm. You can greatly reduce your chances of becoming a fire casualty by being able to identify potential hazards and following the outlined safety tips.

Summer Storm Fire Hazards

  • Lightning associated with thunderstorms generates a variety of fire hazards. The power of lightning's electrical charge and intense heat can electrocute on contact, splitting trees and causing fires.
  • Pools of water and even appliances can be electrically charged.
  • Appliances that have been exposed to water can short and become a fire hazard.
  • Generators are often used during power outages. Generators that are not properly used and maintained can be very hazardous.

Chemical Safety

  • Look for combustible liquids like gasoline, lighter fluid and paint thinner that may have spilled. Thoroughly clean the spill and place containers in a well-ventilated area.
  • Keep combustible liquids away from heat sources.

Electrical Safety

  • If your home has sustained flood or water damage, and you can safely get to the main breaker or fuse box, turn off the power.
  • Assume all wires on the ground are electrically charged. This includes cable TV feeds.
  • Be aware of and avoid downed utility lines. Report downed or damaged power lines to the utility company or emergency services.
  • Remove standing water, wet carpets and furnishings. Air dry your home with good ventilation before restoring power.
  • Have a licensed electrician check your home for damage.

Gas Safety

  • Smell and listen for leaky gas connections. If you believe there is a gas leak, immediately leave the house and leave the door(s) open.
  • Never strike a match. Any size flame can spark an explosion.
  • Before turning the gas back on, have the gas system checked by a professional.

Generator Safety

  • Follow the manufacturer's instructions and guidelines when using generators.
  • Use a generator or other fuel-powered machines outside the home. Carbon monoxide (CO) fumes are odourless and can quickly overwhelm you indoors.
  • Use the appropriate sized and type power cords to carry the electric load. Overloaded cords can overheat and cause fires.
  • Never run cords under rugs or carpets where heat might build up or damage to a cord may go unnoticed.
  • Never connect generators to another power source such as power lines. The reverse flow of electricity or 'backfeed' can electrocute an unsuspecting utility worker.

Heating Safety

  • Kerosene heaters may not be legal in your area and should only be used where approved by authorities.
  • Do not use the kitchen oven range to heat your home. In addition to being a fire hazard, it can be a source of toxic fumes.
  • Alternative heaters need their space. Keep anything combustible at least 3 feet away.
  • Make sure your alternative heaters have 'tip switches.' These 'tip switches' are designed to automatically turn off the heater in the event they tip over.
  • Only use the type of fuel recommended by the manufacturer and follow suggested guidelines.
  • Refuel heaters only outdoors. Never refill a space heater while it is operating or still hot.
  • Make sure wood stoves are properly installed, and at least three feet away from combustible materials. Ensure they have the proper floor support and adequate ventilation.
  • Use a glass or metal screen in front of your fireplace to prevent sparks from igniting nearby carpets, furniture or other combustible items.
  •  Always use a flashlight – not a candle – for emergency lighting.

RV/Motorhome Fire Safety Tips

Whether camping, partying or just relaxing in your recreational vehicle (RV), fire safety is essential.  It is critical that every member of your party know what to do in an emergency or fire.  If you are one of the millions of RV enthusiasts who love to take to the road and explore this great country of ours, ensure your family’s safety while travelling in your RV by following these fire safety guidelines. 

Calling for Help

  • When travelling in an RV, it’s crucial to know your location so emergency responders can find you in the event of an emergency.  Be aware of your location and surroundings.
  • Confirm the local emergency numbers for police, fire and ambulance – is 9-1-1 service available in the area?
  • Most campgrounds are in more remote areas that may not provide cell phone coverage.  Check your cell phone coverage.
  • When you call 9-1-1 from a regular land phone line emergency services receive enhanced 9-1-1 data indicating the address and municipality of where the call is originating, should the caller be unable to provide this information.  This enhanced 9-1-1 data is not available for cell phone calls, so ensuring everyone knows the exact location in the event of an emergency is critical in obtaining a timely response from emergency services.
  • When vacationing in an isolated area, keep in mind that help from emergency services may be some distance away.  It’s vitally important that you eliminate your risk from fire and have a fire escape plan in place that everyone is familiar with and has practised.  Have at least two escape routes – one in the front and one in the rear of the RV.  Test all escape windows, hatches and door latches for smooth operation and keep all escape windows, hatches and doors clear of any obstructions.  As soon as they are old enough, teach children how to open escape hatches and emergency exits and have them practise.  

Fire Prevention

  • Have your fuel-burning appliances checked at the beginning of each camping season to ensure they are properly vented, free of any obstructions such as cobwebs, birds nests, etc., and working well.
  • Gas cylinders, pipes, fittings and connections should be checked regularly, particularly after driving on bumpy roads, which may loosen connections.
  • Only a certified propane fitter may legally install or remove propane piping, tubing equipment and appliances in an RV.  Be sure to look for approved products bearing the Canadian Gas Association (CGA), Canadian Standards Association (CSA) or Underwriters’ Laboratory of Canada (ULC) logos on the rating plate of new appliances.
  • Maintain the RV’s mechanical systems, such as radiator hoses, fuel lines, brake systems, transmission, etc., in good working order to eliminate the risk of any leaks or malfunctions that may result in a fire.
  • Ensure that the extension cord for connecting your RV to a campground’s 110v electricity supply is in good condition and of suitable gauge wire to handle the electrical load placed upon it.  Damaged extension cords must be replaced immediately.
  • Check all electrical appliances for frayed cords and any other visible.
  • Electrical generators produce exhaust gasses, which contain carbon monoxide.  It is important to have the exhaust pipes extend sufficiently past the side walls or rear of the RV so that prevailing air currents can disperse this lethal gas away from the vehicle and not have it drawn back into an open window on the RV.
  • Ensure that you allow the generator to cool down before refueling.  Always shut off the generator and any other fuel-burning appliances
  • Driving with propane on can add to the danger if you are involved in an accident or have a fire.  Shut off the propane at the tank and turn off all propane-powered appliances while driving.  Operate your refrigerator on 12v battery power or simply leave it turned off.  Most refrigerators will keep food cold or frozen for several hours, even when turned off.
  • When refueling the propane tanks or the RV’s fuel tank it is important to shut off all interior burners, pilot lights, appliances, automatic ignition switches, as well as the RV’s motor and have all passengers exit the vehicle.
  • Propane cylinders, relief valves and regulating equipment must be located either outside the vehicle, or in a compartment gas-tight to the interior to allow any possible leaks to flow to the outside air.  Keep propane cylinders outside unless a properly designed storage compartment has been fitted on your RV.
  • Propane cylinders should not be mounted on the roof of an RV.  Propane cylinders mounted on the back of the RV pose a hazard in the event of a rear-end collision unless substantial protection to the tank is provided.
  • Show all travelers how to shut off propane valves and how to unhook 110v electrical supply cord, should either be required in an emergency.
  • Store all flammable liquids, including small disposable propane cylinders outside of the RV.
  • Whenever using the stove in your RV, open an overhead vent or turn on the exhaust fan and open a window a small amount to allow fresh air in and carbon monoxide gases out
  • The stove should never be used to heat the interior of the RV.
  • Never leave cooking unattended.
  • Store all clothes, linens and other combustibles well away from the kitchen area.  In the compact kitchens in RVs combustibles such as paper towels and curtains are likely to be closer to the stove, so exercise even greater caution than you do at home when cooking in your RV.
  • Keep all lighters and matches safely out of the reach of children.

Fire Detection and Response

The first rule of RV firefighting is to save lives first and property second.  Get yourself and your family to safety before attempting to extinguish any fire.  Only if you can do so without endangering yourself or others should you use firefighting aids on hand.  Re-emphasize to everyone aboard that objects can be replaced, people can’t!  Never re-enter a burning RV to retrieve anything. Get out and stay out. 

Install and maintain at least one smoke alarm in your RV near the sleeping area.  Special 12v smoke alarms, designed specifically for RVs, are available from specialized retailers.  Depending on the size of your RV and placement of sleeping areas, more than one smoke alarm may be required. 

Install and maintain at least one carbon monoxide (CO) alarm in your RV near the sleeping area.  Special 12v CO alarms, designed specifically for RVs, are available from specialized retailers.  Be aware that residential style CO alarms that plug directly into the electrical outlet require 110v power and would only work and sound an alarm when your RV is plugged into an electrical source at a campground, but would not function when you are on the road or operating off of your 12v battery supply.  Consider that some low cost units cause false alarms, so be sure to obtain a quality unit.  

Install a propane leak alarm at floor level, no more than six inches above the floor or lowest level to alert you in the event of a propane leak.  Propane gas, like gasoline fumes, tends to pool in low-lying spots and even a small spark can ignite it.  If you have a leak, immediately evacuate the area and shut off the propane at the tank, if it is safe to do so. 

Ensure that all travelers in the RV know what the sound of each type of alarm indicates and what to do when they hear it. Test all smoke alarms, CO alarms and propane leak alarms weekly when the RV is in use.

Fire Extinguishers

Install a fully charged multi-purpose or ABC fire extinguisher in a visible, easily accessible location near an exit where escape is also an option.  

  • Make sure everyone knows where it is and how to use it.  
  • If you already have a fire extinguisher installed, check the pressure gauge to ensure it is fully charged, indicated by the needle in the green area.  
  • A partially discharged fire extinguisher is always considered an empty one – have it refilled or replaced immediately.  
  • Also keep in mind that the dry chemical inside the extinguisher tends to pack down in the bottom of the extinguisher over time, which may make it ineffective.  Once a month pick up the fire extinguisher, check the gauge or pin for pressure, turn it upside down and hit the bottom sharply with your hand, then shake it well.  This should dislodge any compacted dry chemical inside the extinguisher.  Most fire extinguishers have a lifespan of five to 15 years. 
  • Most residential fire extinguishers discharge in eight to 10 seconds with a range of only 2 to 3.5 metres (six to 10 feet).  They should only be used to extinguish small, contained fires or to reduce a fire sufficiently to allow escape.
  • Remember, don’t fight a fire, unless you call the fire department first!  A fire extinguisher is no substitute for the fire department.
  • Ensure family members know how to use the extinguishers and understand which extinguishers are effective on what types of fires. 

Heating Safety Tips

  • Leave plenty of clearance between your propane lamp or lantern and any combustible materials.  Follow the manufacturer's recommendations for space clearance.  Select a level surface on which to place the lamp or lantern.  Ensure you have adequate ventilation whenever using a propane-powered appliance.
  • A lantern is not a space heater. Use it only as a light source. Always detach the propane cylinder before transporting a lantern and secure the cylinder in a vertical, upright position.
  • Establish safe campfire rules to be followed when camping.

Recreational travelers to the United States should be aware that effective April 1, 2002 many states in the United States have adopted a requirement that all propane cylinders with a capacity from 4 to 40 pounds must have an Overfill Protection Device (OPD).  All propane cylinders without an OPD are prohibited from being refilled by anyone.  The OPD serves as a safety shut-off device and prevents overfilling of propane cylinders to avert propane release, fire and possible injury.  Propane cylinders equipped with an OPD have the letters “OPD” stamped on the valve hand wheel and on the side of the valve.  Most propane cylinders with a triangular valve wheel have an OPD.  Propane cylinders with a round or star-shaped valve wheel usually do not have an OPD. Canadian provinces have not yet adopted the requirement for OPD devices on propane cylinders in order to refill the cylinder.  (NFPA 58, Section, the LP-Gas Code) 

If you have questions about seasonal safety, please contact your local fire department.