Fire Prevention & Safety

Test your Smoke Alarms

By following some simple safety rules, you can protect your loved ones and your property from fires.

Protecting your Home: Smoke Alarms
  • Maintain working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms on every storey of your home and outside all sleeping areas to have as much time to safely escape as possible. Not only do smoke and carbon monoxide alarms save lives, they are required by law.
Protecting your Home: Carbon Monoxide (CO) Alarms
  • Carbon Monoxide (CO) is produced when fuels such as propane, gasoline, natural gas, heating oil or wood have insufficient air to burn completely.  This can occur in any appliance or device that burns these fuels such as furnaces, fireplaces, hot water heaters or stoves.
  • Other common causes of CO are cars left running in attached garages; barbecues operated inside; kerosene heaters that improperly vented; or chimneys or vents that are dirty or plugged.
  • Exposure to CO can cause flu-like symptoms such as headaches, nausea and dizziness, as well as confusion, drowsiness, loss of consciousness and death.
  • Installing a CO alarm in the home will alert occupants to the presence of this deadly gas.  If only one alarm is being installed, locate it near sleeping areas.  Additional alarms should be located in or adjacent to rooms with fuel-burning appliances.
  • In Ontario, you must have a working CO alarm adjacent to each sleeping area of the home if you have a fuel-burning appliance, a fireplace or an attached garage. It's the law.
  • If someone in the household is experiencing symptoms of CO poisoning, get everyone out of the home immediately.  Call 911 from outside the home.
Be Prepared: Practice your Escape
  • Plan and practice a home fire escape plan so everyone in the home knows exactly what to do should the smoke alarms sound in an emergency.
  • Make sure everyone knows two ways out of each room, if possible.
  • Check that all exits are unobstructed and easy to use.
  • Determine who will be responsible for helping young children, older adults or anyone else that may need assistance.
  • Choose a meeting place outside, such as a tree or a lamp post, where everyone can be accounted for.
  • If caught in smoke, get low and go under the smoke to the nearest safe exit.
  • Call the fire department from outside the home, from a cell phone or a neighbour’s home.
  • Once out, stay out!  Never re-enter a burning building.
In your Home: Cooking, Heating & Electrical Safety


  • Stay in the kitchen when cooking – especially if using oil or high temperatures.
  • Keep a proper-fitting pot lid near the stove when cooking.  If a pot catches fire, slide the lid over the pot and turn off the stove.  Do not move the pan.
  • Wear tight-fitting or rolled up sleeves when using the stove.  Loose, dangling clothing can easily catch fire.  If your clothing catches fire, stop, drop to the ground and roll over and to put out the fire.
  • Keep combustible items such as cooking utensils, dishcloths, paper towels and pot holders a safe distance from the stove.
  • Keep children away from the stove.  Make sure electrical cords are not dangling from countertops, where they could be pulled over by small children.
  • Cool a burn by running cool water over the wound for 3 to 5 minutes.  If the burn is severe, seek medical attention.


  • At the start of the season, make sure the burner ports are free of rust or dirt and that the burner orifice is clear of dust and cobwebs.
  • Check cylinder connections and hoses for leaks by brushing a 50/50 mix of liquid soap and water onto all connections and hoses.  Rising bubbles when you turn on the valve indicate a leak.  Tighten connections or repair the hose until there are no more bubbles.
  • When lighting the grill, always have the lid open.  Open the valve at the cylinder, then turn on the barbecue controls and light the burner using the ignitor button.  If there is no ignitor, insert the flame from a long match or barbecue lighter through the side burner hole.  Light the match before you turn on the gas at the grill controls.
  • Transport a propane cylinder safely by placing it in a secure, upright position with the safety valve on top.  It is preferable to transport it on the floor of the passenger compartment.  Make sure the windows of the vehicle are open.
  • Never use or store a propane barbecue indoors or in any enclosed space, including a garage.

Heating your Home

  • Have fuel-burning appliance serviced annually by certified service technicians (this includes fireplaces and chimneys).
  • Install a CO alarm to alert you to the presence of deadly carbon monoxide gas. In Ontario, you must have a working CO alarm adjacent to each sleeping area of the home if you have a fuel-burning appliance, a fireplace or an attached garage. It's the law.
  • Give space heaters space: keep space heaters at least one metre (3 feet) away from anything that can burn, including curtains, upholstery, clothing and people.
  • Protect your home from sparks.  Use a fire screen around the fire place.
  • Watch for smoke coming into the room.  This could indicate a blockage in the chimney or a faulty damper control mechanism.
  • Allow the ashes from your woodstove or fireplace to cool before emptying them into a metal container with a tight-fitting lid.  Keep the container outside.

Electrical Safety

  • Check cords for damage such as fraying or nicks,  A damaged cord can expose wires and result in a potential shock or fire hazard.
  • Avoid running cords under rugs, which can damage the cord and cause a fire.
  • Extension cords should be used only as a temporary connection.  If permanent wiring is required, have additional outlets installed by a licensed electrician.  Extension cords should not be linked together – instead, use an extension cord that is long enough to do the job.
  • Air conditioners and other heavy appliances should be plugged directly into an outlet.  If that is not possible, use a 14 gauge, three-wire grounding-type appliance extension cord.
  • Avoid overloading a circuit with “octopus outlets.”  If additional outlets or circuits are required, have them installed by a licensed electrician.
In your Home: Garages


  • If possible, don’t store flammable items like paints, gas, propane, or oil in the garage. If you have a shed a good distance away from your house, this is a better place to keep these items. Either way, make sure they’re kept in their proper storage containers. If you’re unsure about how the item should be stored, check out the product’s label or reach out to the manufacturer for more info.
  • Store any items that can burn on shelves away from big appliances.
  • Remove things like wood shavings, oily rags, paper products and garbage on a regular basis.
  • Keep your garage well-organized and clean. Don't allow items and boxes to pile up and become cluttered. Make sure that you have a clear and safe path to any exits, such as windows and doors.

Electrical Systems

  • Update outdated or damaged wiring systems (like knob and tube).
  • When using or charging appliances that have to be plugged in, make sure they’re plugged directly into a wall socket. Avoid using extension cords or power bars.
  • Only plug one appliance in at a time to help prevent an electrical surge.

Car Safety

  • If you park in the garage, pay attention to anything that can overheat; this can include the engine, car batteries, or the heating system (including heated seats). 
  • Always open the garage door before starting your car to avoid carbon monoxide build-up in your home.

Fire Safety Precautions

  • If you smoke, butt-out properly. 
  • Install a fire extinguisher near the door leading into your garage. Different extinguishers will put out different types of fires, so select one that is appropriate for your garage and the activities you use it for.
  • Install a smoke alarm and a carbon monoxide alarm, and test them regularly.
  • Make sure that the door between your home and an attached garage latches properly, and install a self-closing mechanism (as required by the Ontario Building Code).
In your Home: Smoking
  • Encourage smokers to smoke outside.
  • Do not extinguish cigarettes in plant pots, which often contain a mixture of peat moss, shredded wood and bark that can easily ignite.
  • Never smoke in bed.
  • Use large, deep ashtrays that can’t be knocked over.
  • Empty ashes into a metal container – not the garbage can – and put outside.
  • If people have been smoking in your home, check behind chair and sofa cushions for cigarette butts before going to bed.
Seasonal Safety: Outdoor Fires, Fireworks and Holidays

Outdoor Fires

  • Residents in Middlesex Centre are required to follow the rules in the Open Air Burning By-lawCheck the quick guide for a summary of the rules for recreational and rural (open air) fires. 


The municipality has rules and restrictions on fireworks – please see the fire permits and inspection page to see if you require a permit.  In addition, here are some basic safety tips:

  • Appoint a responsible person to be in charge.
  • Carefully read and follow the label directions on the fireworks’ packaging.
  • Always keep a water hose or a pail of water close by when discharging fireworks.
  • Discharge fireworks well away from combustible materials such as buildings, trees, and dry grass.
  • Keep onlookers a safe distance away, upwind from the area where fireworks are discharged.
  • Light one firework at a time.  Never light a firework in your hand or re-light faulty fireworks.
  • Discharge fireworks only if wind conditions do not create a safety hazard.
  • Keep sparklers away from children.  As the sparkler wire remains hot for some minutes after burnout, it should be immediately soaked in water to avoid injury.

Holiday Safety Tips

  • Check all sets of lights before putting them on the tree.  Discard any sets that are damaged or old.
  • When buying a real tree, ensure that it is fresh and keep the base of the trunk in water at all times.  Lit candles should never be placed on or near the Christmas tree.
  • Keep candles in a sturdy holder away from children, pets and combustible materials.  Blow them out before leaving the room.
  • Alcohol and fire are a dangerous mix.  Keep a close eye on anyone attempting to cook or smoke while under the influence of alcohol.
On your Farm: Barn Fire Safety

People, animals, and property are in danger when fire breaks out on the farm. Inspect your barn and outbuildings for fire hazards and have a fire safety plan to reduce the risk of tragic loss.

Barn Fire Safety Checklist (courtesy of the NFPA):

  • Required safety equipment - fire extinguishers, smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, etc. - are present and in good working order.
  • Heat lamps and space heaters are kept a safe distance from anything that can burn.
  • Heaters are on a sturdy surface and cannot fall over.
  • Electrical equipment is labelled for agricultural or commercial use.
  • All wiring is free from damage.
  • Extension cords are not used in the barn.
  • Lightbulbs have covers to protect them from dust, moisture, and breakage.
  • Damage is identified quickly and repairs are completed with safety in mind.
  • Dust and cobwebs around electrical outlets and lights are removed.
  • Oily rags are stored in a closed, metal container away from heat.
  • Feed, hay, straw, and flammable liquids are stored away from the main barn.
  • The barn is a smoke-free zone.
  • Exits are clearly marked and pathways are clear.
  • Fire drills are held frequently with everyone who uses the barn.
  • Workers are trained to use fire extinguishers.
  • Everyone in the barn knows personal safety is the first priority if a fire breaks out.
  • Hazard checks take place on a set schedule.

Also see:


Contact Middlesex Centre Fire Services to discuss fire prevention strategies for your farm.

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