- Why do I need to replace the smoke alarms in my house after 10 years?
After ten years, the smoke alarm has tested the air in your home 3.5 million times. The components inside the alarm can wear out and may not detect a fire as quickly. Most manufacturers recommend replacing them after ten years to ensure the best level of protection in your home.
- Why does using my toaster or steam from my shower set off my smoke alarm?
Smoke alarms are designed to be very sensitive in detecting smoke. That’s because it is so important to be alerted as soon as any fire conditions occur in your home to give you time to escape. In certain situations, an entire home can catch on fire in less than four minutes, making early detection critical to a safe escape. If your smoke alarm regularly goes off when you cook, do not take the alarm down, but replace it with a unit that has a hush button feature. You can also or move it further away from the kitchen, keeping in mind the smoke alarm needs to be outside sleeping areas.
- Can I be fined or charged if I do not have smoke alarms in my home?
The Alarmed for Life Program is not intended to be punitive. Crews want to make sure homes are safe before they leave. However, the Ontario Fire Code requires that each home must have a working smoke alarm on each floor of the home and outside all sleeping areas. If you do not follow the recommendations suggested by the crews, a Fire Prevention Officer will visit your home and if violations exist you could be fined and/or charged under the Ontario Fire Code.
- What is carbon monoxide and why is it so dangerous?
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a deadly, colorless, odorless, poisonous gas. It is produced by the incomplete burning of various fuels, including coal, wood, charcoal, oil, kerosene, propane, and natural gas. Carbon monoxide is dangerous because we cannot see, taste, smell, or touch it. You may not know if you have a buildup of CO in the home.
- What are the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning?
The initial symptoms of low to moderate CO poisoning are similar to the flu (but without the fever). Symptoms include headache, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea and dizziness. High level CO poisoning results in progressively more severe symptoms, including mental confusion, vomiting, loss of muscular coordination, loss of consciousness and ultimately, death.
- What can cause carbon monoxide issues in my home and how can I prevent them from happening?
Most Ontario households have, on average, four to six appliances that produce carbon monoxide. These include a furnace, wood fireplace, gas fireplace, gas barbeque, gas stove, gas dryer, gas water heater, portable generators and gas fueled heaters. The best way to ensure that you and your family are not exposed to carbon monoxide is to eliminate this poisonous gas at the source. It is recommended to have a trained, certified technician check your furnace, fireplace or fuel-burning appliances on a yearly basis.
- Where should I have carbon monoxide alarms in my home?
The Ontario Fire Code requires you to have a carbon monoxide alarm outside each sleeping area of the home if you have a fuel burning appliance, a fireplace, or an attached garage with a parked vehicle inside it. If someone sleeps downstairs in the basement and someone sleeps upstairs, you would need two CO alarms. You can install a carbon monoxide alarm anywhere near the sleeping area. Some models plug into an outlet or can even being placed on a hallway table. Your home’s heating and cooling system helps keep air circulating, so carbon monoxide will be detected anywhere in the room.
- When do I have to replace my carbon monoxide alarm?
Older carbon monoxide alarm models have a lifespan generally of five to seven years while newer carbon monoxide models last for ten years, but it is best to check your individual unit and see the recommended replacement date by the manufacturer.
- If I want more information on carbon monoxide safety, who can I contact?
The Technical Standards and Safety Authority is the organization with resources and information on the topic of carbon monoxide in Ontario. Go to cosafety.ca
for more information or call 1.877.682.TSSA (8772).
- Is it safe to use my barbeque in the garage even if the door is open?
Propane or charcoal grills should never be used indoors, and that includes inside the garage. Even if the garage door is open, it still does not allow enough circulation, and carbon monoxide will start to build up in the garage and enter into your home. Also, grease from cooking will accumulate in the ceiling of the garage which can create a dangerous fire hazard. Simply put, propane fueled cooking appliances should never be used indoors.
- Are electric stoves safer than natural gas stoves?
Both stoves are safe to use, and modern gas stoves have built in safety mechanisms that can prevent natural gas build up in the home. However, the greatest stove-related danger applies to both gas and electric stoves, and that’s from fires starting when people leave cooking unattended.
- Can I plug an appliance into an extension cord?
Extension cords should only be used on a temporary basis. Make sure you unplug and safely store them after every use. Never use a cord that feels hot or is damaged in any way. Touching even a single exposed strand can give you an electric shock or burn. Also, make sure extension cords are properly rated for their intended use, indoor or outdoor, and meet or exceed the power needs of the tool being used.
- If I have any electrical issues in my home, who can I contact for more information?
The Electrical Safety Authority is the organization with resources and information on electrical issues in Ontario. Their general contact number is 1.877.372.7233.
- What are the top causes of residential fires in Brampton?
Over the past five years there has been a trend where unattended cooking continues to be the number one cause of fires in the home. It includes both cooking on the stove and on barbeques. The other top causes are cutting/soldering activities in the home, clothing dryers and electrical issues.
- If there is a fire in my home, how do I safely escape?
The important factor in escaping a home fire is a working smoke alarm. A working smoke alarm gives you enough time to be alerted of a fire in your home and escape. The most common injury from home fires comes from smoke inhalation. Also, we highly recommend that you have a home escape plan and your family pick a meeting place outside the front of your home. That way everyone can be accounted for and fire crews can see your family is safe when they arrive.
- What if I get trapped between two walls of flames, or even trapped in a room with fire on the other side?
Many of the “what if” scenarios when it comes to fires in the home are negligible if your home has working smoke alarms on every floor. Smoke alarms give you the time to get out safely and alert you when the fire is still small enough to safely escape.
- What size of fire extinguisher do you recommend for my home?
While extinguishers are a great fire protection tool, we recommend that unless you have been professionally trained to use one you should avoid attempting to put a fire out with an extinguisher. Attempting to put a fire out without any formal training may put you in danger. However, if you have been trained and are comfortable with using one we advise a five-pound ABC type extinguisher kept in a location that is easily accessible.
- Can I use water or baking soda to put out a fire on my stove?
You never want to put water on a cooking fire because it can interact with the grease of the food and cause a much larger fire. Baking soda or other products, such as salt, do not work effectively because you need a very large amount. If you have a fire on your stove you should leave the home immediately and call 9-1-1 from outside.
- Can I put a fire out in my home using a garden hose or a bucket of water?
Never attempt to put out a fire in your home, especially if it is large. There have been cases in Brampton where residents have attempted to put fires out and have been severely injured. Also, not calling 9-1-1 right away will delay the fire crews’ response, which then allows the fire to grow much larger and more dangerous. A fire doubles in size every 30 seconds.