Home Fire Safety

Fires are often sudden and unexpected, but with the right planning and preparations you can keep you and your family safe. Simple preparations, like creating a fire escape plan and regularly testing smoke alarms, can help reduce injuries and losses in the event of a fire.

What are the realities of fire?

Fire can destroy anyone's home. Fires are real, not just events in the news or movies. Most people have no idea how destructive a fire can be. Here are some facts that everyone should know.

Fire creates thick black smoke that makes it difficult to see. Smoke is more deadly than flames. The poisonous gases in the smoke can kill you. Many fire fatalities occur because people do not stay low and crawl under the smoke to a safe exit.

Most fires occur at night while people are sleeping. Many people suffocate without ever waking and realizing the fire danger Fire has intense heat. A fire can create extreme temperatures in a matter of seconds. These temperatures can cause severe burns rendering you unconscious.

Fire spreads rapidly. A home can be totally consumed in fire in less than five minutes. Working smoke alarms will provide an early warning of the problem, and a home fire escape plan will provide time to escape safely.

What should I do if there is a fire?

Get out quickly and safely. When the smoke alarm sounds, immediately start your escape. Do not try to gather possessions or pets.

Check the door. Stay low behind the door, reach up and feel the door and the door handle for heat.

If the door feels cool, brace yourself against the door and open it slowly. If it is safe, leave the building and go directly to your meeting place. If you encounter smoke, crawl low under the smoke. Cleaner air is down low, near the floor. Once you are out of the building, stay out. There is nothing more important in your house than you and your family. Go to the meeting place to make sure everyone is safe. Phone 9-1-1 or your local emergency number from a neighbour's house.

If the door feels warm, or you see smoke or flames on the other side of the door, shut the door, and use your second escape route. If you must escape from an upper story window of a multi-level home, make sure you have a safe way to reach the ground, such as a fire escape ladder.

If you are trapped, seal the openings around the door and vents with wet bedding or towels. Call 9-1-1 or your local emergency number and notify the fire department of your location. If it is safe to open a window and there is no smoke, open it to signal and yell for help.

What should I consider when developing and practicing my home fire escape plan?

There are some special situations to consider when developing and practicing your home fire escape plan.

  • Older Adults: An older adult with restricted mobility should sleep on the ground floor. A special plan should be made to provide assistance to this person.
  • Children: Infants and many young children will also need assistance when escaping from the home. A special plan should be made to provide assistance to them. All children should be taught the steps to follow when escaping from the home. They should be involved with making and practicing the family home fire escape plan.
  • People with Physical Disabilities: Anyone with physical disabilities should have their bedroom on the ground floor. A special plan should be developed which provides assistance when escaping. If a family member has a hearing impairment, special smoke alarms are available.
  • Public Buildings: Look for exit signs. Knowing your escape routes is important - even when shopping, visiting the library, or inside any public buildings. If you hear a fire alarm in a public building, follow any instructions given over the public address system or from adults working in the building. In a hotel, take your room key with you as you may encounter smoke and need to re-enter your room for safety.

Starting in November 2018, Kamloops Fire Rescue will roll out a new, proactive public education program called "Kamloops Homesafe". Supression staff will be performing door-to-door public safety visits throughout the city to educate residents on the importance of working smoke alarms and how to prevent fires in the home. Crews will assist residents with testing smoke alarms and will provide information on fire and life safety.

Home Safety Checklist

Smoke Alarms and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
  • Install smoke alarms on every level of the home, including inside and outside each sleeping area.
  • Change smoke alarm batteries twice a year.
  • It is best to use interconnected smoke alarms, so when one alarm sounds they all sound.
  • Test all smoke alarms every month.
  • Replace all smoke alarms when they are 10 years old.
  • Have a carbon monoxide alarm on every level and outside each sleeping area.
  • Test your carbon monoxide alarms monthly.
  • Make sure all alarms can be heard from all areas of your home.

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Escape Planning
  • Prepare and practise a home fire escape plan, including a safe meeting place.
  • Ensure bedrooms have two ways out (a window and a door).
  • Teach everyone to get out and stay out! Don't go back in for any reason.
  • Everyone in the home should know how to call 9-1-1 from a safe area and give the address of your location.
  • Windows should open easily. If windows have security bars, ensure they have a quick release.
  • Keep entrances, doorways, and hallways clear of obstructions.

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Heating Safety
  • Ensure portable heaters have 3 ft. of clearance around them.
  • Turn off portable heaters when going to bed or leaving the room for a long period of time.
  • Check and/or service furnace and gas fireplaces annually.
  • Have wood fireplace chimneys inspected and cleaned annually.
  • Gas and/or wood fireplaces should have a screen to prevent burns to children.
Electrical, Electronics, and Appliances
  • Ensure electrical outlets are not overloaded. Use a power bar with its own breaker.
  • Do not use extension cords for permanent wiring.
  • Do not run extension cords across doorways or under carpets and rugs.
  • Make sure your electrical outlets are child safe - use child-safe covers.
  • Ensure outlet and switch faceplates are secure, in place, and in good condition.
  • Make sure candles are extinguished when you leave the room or go to bed.
  • Keep candles two feet away from anything that can burn, such as clothing, curtains, blinds, etc.
  • Candles should be in a non-combustible holder that won't tip over.
Lighting Safety
  • Make sure bulbs in lighting fixtures are the correct wattage for the fixture to prevent overheating.
  • Check that switches are in good condition and there is no evidence of arcing or overheating.
  • Make sure your lamps are clear of combustibles and curtains and that they sit on a level, sturdy surface.
  • Lamp shades should be used to protect the bulb in case the lamp tips over.
  • Never drape clothing over a lamp to darken a room.
Kitchen - Cooking Safety
  • Always stay in the kitchen while cooking - never leave food unattended on the stovetop.
  • Keep towels, curtains, and other combustibles away from heat sources, such as the stove top.
  • Keep the stove and oven clean and free of grease.
  • Have a lid nearby to cover a pot or frying pan.
  • Never carry a pot or frying pan that is on fire. The contents can spill over, spreading fire or seriously burning you.
  • Unplug small appliances when they're not being used.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher near your kitchen, close to an exit. The recommended size is 2A-1 OBC, and it should be tested every 6 years.
  • Keep pan and pot handles turned inward so they can't be bumped.
General Safety
  • Keep your hot water tank at a safe temperature so children will not get burned.
  • Keep matches and lighters in a safe place, out of children's reach.
  • Store and properly label household chemicals and medications - out of children's reach.
  • Never smoke in bed or where you might fall asleep. Smoking should be outside only.
  • Don't store gasoline in your garage. Keep it in an approved container in a shed.
  • Keep gas-powered equipment stored in a shed that is not attached to your home.
  • There should be a solid door between your home and the garage.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher inside your garage (by an exit, if possible).
  • Remove debris such as leaves, twigs, and needles from around the house and under decks.
  • Keep lawns mowed and irrigated, and choose FireSmart plats for your yard.
  • Enclose decks with non-combustible materials to discourage the collection of debris and embers.
  • Keep firewood piles and other items stacked at least 10 metres from the house, especially during wildfire season. 
  • Ensure a clean, fire-resistant roof and clean eaves. 
  • Enclose soffits and vents to ensure embers cannot enter. 
  • Remove trees, bushes and other combustible material from the first 10 metres around the house. (i.e. Junipers and Cedars) 
  • Don't forget to consider any buildings or fences within 10 metres of the home and take steps to FireSmart them as well. 

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Outside the Home
  • Make sure your house number is visible from the street both day and night. 
  • Cigarettes should not be extinguished in planters, on grass, or in peat moss. 
  • Use an ashtray or other approved container for disposing of all smoking materials.
  • Ensure pools and hot tubs are fenced and locked. 
Emergency Preparedness
  • Know the greatest potential risks in your area, such as flood or fire. 
  • Make a household plan related to your risks. 
  • In an emergency, you should be prepared to take care of you and your family for a minimum of 72 hours.

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