Preventing a fire in 10 steps

Would you know what to do if a fire started in your home? Would your kids? Take the time to review fire safety tips so your family will be prepared if a fire breaks out unexpectedly.

An evacuation plan

Having an evacuation plan is the first thing you can do to make sure you are well prepared in case of a fire. The plan consists of a detailed drawing of your house that will help you locate the exits you can use in case of a fire. This plan should contain:

  • Emergency exits
  • The fastest route to get there
  • The meeting place located outside
  • The location of smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, and portable fire extinguishers

Here is really useful information to help you with fire prevention.

Evacuation drills

Because smoke can invade your home in as fast as 3 minutes, which includes the time it takes for the smoke alarm to detect the smoke if you're asleep when the fire started, you must be sure to react quickly. The best way to do that is to practice your evacuation plan at least once a year with your whole family.

  • Start the alarm without telling your family members beforehand
  • Follow the evacuation following the steps you outlined in your plan and time the exercise
  • Get to the agreed-upon meeting place and go over how it went, making changes to your plan if necessary.
A survey conducted by Duracell in 2011 about fire prevention, in partnership with the Association des chefs en sécurité incendie du Québec (ACSIQ), reveals that 45 % of Quebecers surveyed don't have an evacuation plan and at least 80 % reported that they did not do a fire drill in their home during the past year.
Smoke alarms

Smoke alarms are a must to protect your family against fires as they can quickly alert you to the presence of smoke so you can act fast and avoid the worst. Here are some tips to help you choose the right smoke alarms for your home:

  • Smoke detectors using ionization are the most commonly used and are usually placed near the bedrooms.
  • It's better to use a photocell smoke detector near the kitchen and bathrooms, as they are less sensitive to steam and vapor.
  • Select a smoke detector that offers a long battery life like lithium batteries that can last up to 10 years. It's important to test your alarm regularly to make sure it's still in working condition.
  • In new homes, smoke alarms are connected to the electrical system, so you have to make sure the one you choose contains a backup battery in case of a power outage.
  • Always choose a smoke alarm that features the logo « ULC » that indicates it meets Canadian standards.
To put all the odds in your favor, change the batteries in your smoke alarms when the seasons or the hours change. Furthermore, test your alarms once a month by pressing the test button for a few seconds. If the alarm is not heard immediately, it's time to change the battery.
Carbon monoxide detectors

When a car or a device burns a flammable product like wood, gas, oil or propane, it produces carbon monoxide, an odorless, colorless, tasteless gas that doesn't cause irritation. A slight poisoning causes symptoms that can, especially in children, look like the flu or gastro, like nausea, headache, and fatigue. Severe poisoning can quickly lead to loss of consciousness and even lead to death in minutes. The only thing that can detect the presence of carbon monoxide is a carbon monoxide detector, and they cost between $ 30 and 60 $. Just like the smoke alarm, it's important to choose one that features the « ULC » logo.

Your kitchen

Since most residential fires start in the kitchen, it's important to remember a few basic rules to follow in the kitchen so you can avoid a potential fatal fire:

  • Never leave anything unattended on the stove, especially not oil
  • If you are using a fryer, chose one with thermostatic control
  • Always make sure you turn off all your kitchen appliances before you leave the kitchen

If you have flammable products in your home, like paint or solvents, you have to store them away from heat sources. Tanks of gas and propane should always be stored outside.


In addition to basic safety rules like keeping flammables and dangerous items out of reach so children don't get themselves hurt, it's important to also take the time to teach them fire prevention and to encourage them to participate in the making of your evacuation plan and make the whole thing a fun experience for them while remaining calm, so they know how to react in case of a fire. If your kids come back from school with documentation about fire prevention, go over it with them.

What to do in case of a fire

If your family is the victim of a fire despite all your precautions, quickly gather all the members of your family and proceed out of your house following your evacuation plan. Go to the agreed-upon meeting place and call 911 once everyone is safe and sound, away from the flames and smoke.

Important! Never go back into a house in flames. Firefighters are the only ones that are protected enough to save a person or an animal that is a prisoner of the flames and smoke.
Portable fire extinguishers

If you are there when the fire starts, you can use a portable fire extinguisher that features the « ULC » logo to extinguish a fire that is still small. Choose an A, B, C, multipurpose powder extinguisher which will help extinguish fires from:

  • Flammable materials like wood
  • Flammable liquids or gas like oil, paint or gasoline
  • Electrical equipment malfunctions
Fire insurance

In the event of a fire, fire insurance generally provides a protection in case of complete or partial loss. To be able to have a plan that adequately covers your family, home, and possessions, it's important to contact a broker who can help you build a plan that is right for you and your family.

Image de Mariem Melainine

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