1. Early detection of a house fire is essential.
Prevention is the first and most effective step in managing house fires: be sure to install working smoke detectors on every floor and carbon monoxide alarms outside sleeping areas, and test them monthly. “Change the batteries annually,” says Stephen Welowszky, division chief of public education with Toronto Fire Services. Family members of seniors should take extra precautions, he notes. Consider devices specifically designed for hearing-impaired individuals that emit a strobe light, as well as pager-like options that vibrate if the alarm sounds while you’re asleep.
2. Be cautious in the kitchen.
In the period between 2009 and 2013, cooking caused an average of 1,357 fires a year in Ontario alone, according to the province’s Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management. In the case of a grease fire, don’t put water on the flames-this will cause them to flare up violently, warns Welowszky. Turn off the heat and smother the blaze with another pan, if possible.
3. Learn your fire extinguisher ABCs.
Fire extinguishers come in different types, indicated on their tags: A, B, C, or ABC. Type A is for combustible materials like paper and cardboard; type B is for flammable liquids, such as cooking oil; and type C is for electrical and appliance fires. Welowszky says type ABC is best for households.
4. Make a house fire escape plan.
Know two ways out of every room and off of each floor (windows count), and rehearse this fire drill regularly with all members of your household.