Fire Safety Checklists

Winter has come which means that many of us have turned on our wood stoves and furnaces. Here are a few tips to help prevent the risk of fires and injury caused by improper use and maintenance of wood stoves, furnaces and other heating elements:

Heating/Furnace Safety Tips

  • Clean and inspect your furnace annually and chimney twice a year.
  • Clean or replace your furnace filter three to four times a year to avoid heavy emissions of carbon monoxide and to prevent fires.
  • Furnaces that require lubrication on the motors and bearings should be checked by a qualified heating technician once a year.
  • Keep furniture a minimum of three feet from fireplaces, wall heaters, baseboards and space heaters.
  • Keep combustible items a minimum of six inches away from vents.
  • Do not plug space heaters into extension cords.
  • Ensure your heater is approved by a national testing laboratory and has an auto shut-off feature in the event it tips over or gets bumped.

Fireplace and Wood Stove Safety Tips

  • Do not burn green/moist wood, cardboard, milk cartons, or artificial logs (unless specifically manufactured for this purpose).
  • Do not use gasoline, charcoal starter fluid or other flammable liquids to start your fire.
  • Keep your wood stove burning by frequently adding smaller pieces of wood rather than infrequent large amounts of wood.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher in a central location known to all household members.
  • Place a smoke detector in the room where the wood stove is located. It is also recommended to install a carbon monoxide detector in your bedroom.
  • Keep the area around the heating unit and flue clear.
  • When re-fueling, open the door slowly to prevent smoke spillage.
  • Children must be supervised at all times when wood stoves are in use.
  • Place ashes from fireplaces and barbecues outdoors in a covered metal container at least three feet from anything that can catch fire. Never use a vacuum cleaner to remove ashes. Allow it to cool thoroughly before disposing of it.

Smoke Detector Safety Tips

Smoke detectors are a key part of a home fire escape plan. When there is a fire, smoke spreads fast. Working smoke detectors save lives. Use the following checklist as a guide to ensure you and your family safely escapes your home in the event of a fire:


  • Install smoke detectors inside and outside of each bedroom and sleeping area, on every level of the home including the basement.
  • If you have a large home, it is recommended that extra smoke detectors be installed.
  • Use interconnected smoke detectors so that when one sounds, the others go off as well.
  • Test all smoke detectors at least once a month to ensure they are working by pressing the test button and replace batteries when required.
  • Clean smoke detectors monthly.
  • There are two kinds of detectors: ionization smoke detectors which are quicker to warn about flaming fires; and photoelectric detectors which are quicker to warn about smouldering fires. It is recommended to use both types of detectors in your home.
  • Smoke detectors should be installed either on the ceiling or high on a wall.
  • Smoke detectors should be installed near the kitchen or at least 10 feet from the stove to reduce false alarms.
  • There are other types of alarms such as strobe lights or bed shakers for those who are hard-of-hearing or deaf.
  • Replace all smoke detectors when they reach 10 years of age.

For more fire prevention tips and checklists visit

Tips for Residents

Follow these tips to help prevent fires in your home and minimize damage when a fire starts.

  • Install smoke detectors and check them regularly to ensure they are working properly.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher in a convenient location. Make sure it is in working condition and you know how to use it.
  • Plan an escape route in case of fire and rehearse your plan with family members.
  • Ensure you have an easily accessible alternative exit if the first exit is blocked by fire.
  • Never leave candles burning unattended and keep candles out of reach of children.
  • Make sure that cigarettes are fully extinguished when finished smoking.
  • Clean and inspect chimneys twice a year. Furnaces should be cleaned and inspected annually.
  • Ensure wood stoves are installed properly.
  • Keep clothing and other flammable materials away from heating sources such as space and baseboard heaters.
  • Store matches and lighters in a safe place away from children and sources of heat.
  • Store firewood at least 30 feet from the home.
  • Store flammable materials, liquids and solvents in metal containers, and keep them 30 feet away from the home.
  • Keep brush surrounding your home to a minimum.