Home Fire Safety Tips
From the Zeballos Fire Department
Fire Safety in the Home
Your family can survive even a major fire in your home if you have working smoke alarms to alert you of a fire and have practiced a home escape plan to get out quickly.
Having at least one working smoke alarm in your home is not only common sense, it’s the law in BC. Click Here for more info. If you live in rented accommodation, it’s your landlord’s responsibility to provide a working smoke alarm, but if he/she doesn’t provide one, don’t put yourselves at risk, fit at least one as soon as possible, you can always take it with you if you move.
Important Survival Tips:
• Install working smoke alarms and test them every month.
• Make a home escape plan and practice it.
• Be alert and aware. Stop fires before they start.
Make a Home Escape Plan
Once you are alerted to a fire, you may have no time to plan your escape. That is why you should take the time now to make a home fire escape plan.
• Draw a floor plan of your home. Show two ways out of every room, especially the sleeping areas.
• Determine a safe meeting place.
Everyone in the household should gather at the safe meeting place after escaping from a fire.
• One person should go to a neighbor’s house or the nearest phone in a safe location and call 9-1-1, clearly state your name, street address, phone number and the nature of the incident to the dispatcher when prompted. Hang up when told to do so.
• Practice your plan with all members of the household.
• Hold regular fire drills. It’s a good idea to test the smoke alarm at the same time.
• Make your practice realistic by blocking some exits and using alternate escape routes.
Simple Survival Tips
• Windows and locks should be easy for any family member to quickly open and unlock.
• Check doors before opening them by kneeling or crouching behind the door. Then reach up high and touch the door, knob and frame.
Only open the door if it feels cool. Slam the door shut if you see flames or smoke on the other side.
If you are trapped, close all doors between you and the fire. Instead:
• Use blankets or clothes to fill the cracks around the door to keep out the smoke.
• Signal for help at a window by waving a light coloured cloth or flashlight and yelling for HELP.
• If there is a telephone in the room call 9-1-1 and report where you are located.
If you must escape from an upper storey window of a multilevel home, make sure you have a safe way to reach the ground, such as a fire escape ladder.
• Crawl low under smoke.
• In a fire smoke containing toxic gases and heat rises towards the ceiling. This means that the cleanest air is closest to the floor.
• If there is smoke blocking your primary exit, use another escape route.
• If you must escape through the smoke, stay low by crawling on your hands and knees.
• Get out quickly and safely. When the smoke alarm sounds, immediately start your escape. Do not try to gather possessions or pets. No possessions are worth your life!
• Get out and stay out. Once you have escaped from the burning building, do not go back inside for any reason.
Avoid a Chimney Fire
Chimney fires are the result of creosote and/or debris igniting within the chimney. The fire will usually burn extremely fiercely producing a very hot intense flame, it will often be accompanied by a deep roar with sparks and/or flames exiting the top of the chimney.
The intense heat can cause damage to the chimney liner and the mortar, once they are breached the fire is free to enter the house structure with devastating consequences. If the property has had a chimney fire in the past it will be more susceptible to fire damage in the future unless the chimney is checked and repaired as necessary.
Creosote is a natural byproduct of burning wood and will collect in the chimney lining over a period of time. Creosote is corrosive to both chimney liners and mortar, it will reduce the efficiency of a wood stove and is highly flammable. The highest concentration of creosote is in the smoke.
It is good practice to have your chimney professionally cleaned at least once a year to prevent excessive creosote formation and to ensure there is no build up of debris or even nests.
If you do have a chimney fire, always call 9-1-1 and let the Fire Department deal with it quickly and efficiently, this will ensure the minimum amount of damage to the property.
Tips to minimize the build up of creosote:
• Burn seasoned hardwood when available.
• Ensure the wood is well seasoned and completely dry.
• Keep the fire burning with flames and as smoke free as possible.
• Open the dampers when adding more wood to ignite it as soon as possible.
• If you know the chimney is in good condition, burning a very hot fire once a week can help to burn off some creosote build up.
• Avoid low damper settings for long periods.
Tips to avoid a chimney fire:
• Never burn trash in a wood stove, this can send lighted material up the chimney.
• Have the chimney swept at least once a year.
• Use a bright torch (and eye protection) to inspect the visible portions of the liner when cleaning out the stove or fireplace.
• Have the chimney repaired if there are any signs of damage.
• If you are unsure of the condition of the chimney, have it inspected.
• Have a proper flue cap installed to keep out birds and squirrels.
If you do have a chimney fire:
• If possible close the door(s) on the stove and close the dampers to reduce the oxygen supply to the fire. Use your exit plan to get everyone out of the house immediately.
• Call 9-1-1 from a neighbor’s phone or cell phone, clearly state your name, location (street address), telephone number and state the problem to the dispatcher when requested, hang up when told to do so.
• If you can do so safely, use a garden hose to spray water on to the roof near the chimney, DO NOT spray water onto or down the chimney.
• Try to ensure there is a clear and safe passage for the Fire Fighters to access the chimney.
• Stand back and let the Fire Department deal with the fire as soon as they arrive.