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Home Safety

Home Safety

Reduce fire risks for your family. Learn about common fire hazards in the home and how to prevent them. If you have any doubt about fighting a small fire, just get to a safe location and call 9-1-1.

Fire safety starts with you

Fires that begin at home can be dangerous. If you are aware of how to prevent them, you will increase your chances of keeping your family safe.

Fire safety starts with you

Smoke alarms can save your life.

About 3 out of 5 deaths caused by fire happen in homes where there were no smoke alarms, or their smoke alarms were not working.

When a fire takes place, smoke spreads quickly. That’s why smoke alarms are your best chance at receiving an early warning in the event of a fire.

How and where to install smoke alarms

Ensure you have smoke alarms installed in these areas of your home:

  • Inside every sleeping room
  • Outside each separate sleeping area
  • On every level in your home, including your basement
  • Large homes may require extra smoke alarms

You should also ensure that your smoke alarms are:

  • All interconnected, so that they all sound off together
  • Installed on your ceiling or high up on a wall
  • Kept away from the kitchen to reduce false alarms –– they should each be at least 10 feet (3 metres) from your stove

*Most homes do NOT have this level of protection, but it can make a huge difference in increasing your safety.

Tips for managing smoke alarms

  • Test ALL your smoke alarms at least once a month by pressing the “Test” button to ensure it’s working.
  • People who are hard-of-hearing or deaf can use special alarms. These alarms have strobe lights and bed shakers.
  • Search home improvement store websites or contact us for information.
  • Replace your smoke alarms every 10 years, because they do expire.
  • If your smoke alarm sounds, get out and stay out! Never go back inside for people or pets.
  • Never unplug or take the batteries out of a smoke alarm –– they are there to save lives! You can always use the “silence” button if you need it.

Carbon monoxide is an invisible, colorless and odorless gas that is created when fuels (like gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil and methane) do not burn properly.

At home, this means carbon monoxide could be released from heating and cooking equipment and potentially lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. Because you cannot see or smell carbon monoxide, it is important to have carbon monoxide detectors set up to detect it for you.

How and where to install carbon monoxide detectors

Ensure that you have carbon monoxide detectors installed in these areas of your home:

  • A central location outside each sleeping area
  • On every level of your home
  • Other locations as required by applicable laws, codes or standards

When purchasing and installing your carbon monoxide detectors:

  • Follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer for placement and mounting height
  • Ensure it is listed by a qualified testing laboratory

Tips for staying safe from carbon monoxide:

  • Call our non-emergency number to find out what number to contact if your alarm sounds
  • Test your alarms once a month and replace them according to your manufacturer’s instructions
  • Make sure you only use gas or charcoal grills outdoors, as they produce carbon monoxide
  • Ensure any heating equipment is inspected by a professional every year, before you begin using them in the winter
  • During and after a snowstorm, ensure that your dryer vents, furnace, stove and fireplace do not have any buildup of snow

If your carbon monoxide detector sounds:

  • Move to an area where there is fresh air outdoors, or by an open window or door
  • Call 9-1-1 from your fresh air location and remain there until help has arrived and you are told it is safe to re-enter your home
  • If the audible trouble signal sounds, check for low batteries. If the battery is low, replace it. If it still sounds, call 9-1-1.

Cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires, and most of the time, a kitchen stove is involved.

Unattended cooking is one of the top causes of fire in Richmond, but you can take simple steps to reduce the risks of kitchen fires.

Do’s and don’ts of staying safe in the kitchen


  • Stay in the kitchen if you are preparing any food on your stovetop
  • Turn off your stovetop if you leave your kitchen, even if it’s for a short period of time
  • Use a timer to remind you to check on your cooking if you are baking, roasting or simmering food


  • Keep anything that might catch fire near your stove e.g. oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains
  • Cook anything if you are sleepy or are under the influence of drugs or alcohol

Tips for managing cooking fires

  • Ovens: If a fire breaks out in your oven, turn off your heat source and keep the oven door closed.
  • Stovetops: If a pot or pan catches fire on your stovetop, remove it from the heat source and cover the pot with its appropriate lid. Leave the pot or pan covered until it is completely cooled.

If you have any doubts about managing a small cooking fire:

  • Leave the building and close the door behind you to contain the fire.
  • Call 9-1-1 as soon as you are outside your home.

We use microwaves constantly, which is why it is so important to know a couple of key tips to ensure you and your family are always safe.

The biggest risk with using microwaves is scald burns.

Do’s and don’ts of staying safe around microwaves


  • Supervise children when they are using microwaves
  • Use microwave-safe food containers and dishes when heating up food
  • Open heated food lids slowly, away from the face, as hot steam can cause burns
  • Purchase microwaves that have the label of an independent testing laboratory and complete the product registration card
  • Ensure your microwave is at a safe height and within easy reach for everyone
  • Warm baby bottles in a bowl of warm (not hot or boiling) water, or by running it under a tap


  • Use aluminum foil or metal in microwaves
  • Plug microwaves into extension cords –– always plug them in directly into wall outlets
  • Heat baby bottles in microwaves –– since they heat unevenly, they can create hot pockets which can cause burns

If you have a fire in your microwave:

  • Leave the microwave door closed, turn the oven off and unplug it from the wall
  • If the fire does not go out, get outside and call 9-1-1

Smoking is a major cause of fire, especially in our city.

In Richmond, the number one reason fires take place is due to smoking materials not being discarded properly. However, it is entirely preventable.

Do’s and don’ts of smoking at home:


  • Smoke outside instead of inside, if you have to smoke at home
  • Use a deep, sturdy ashtray and keep it away from anything that can burn
  • Keep all smoking materials like lighters, matches and cigarettes away and out of reach from children
  • Put all cigarette butts and ashes in sand or water before you throw them out


  • Throw away cigarettes in any grass or plants
  • Smoke anywhere where medical oxygen is used
  • Smoke indoors

Though lighting candles at home can bring relaxation or connect you with a personal ritual, having an open flame can still be dangerous.

Tips for using candles at home:

  • Before you leave a room, ensure any candles you lit are put out
  • If you are going to sleep, ensure any candles you lit are put out
  • Keep all candles at least three feet away from any materials that can burn, like curtains