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Fire Safety Workshop: Homeowner 101

The Government of Canada recommends that smoke detectors are installed outside all bedrooms and sleeping areas, as well as on all levels of the home, including basements. It’s important that your home is equipped with smoke detectors, carbon monoxide alarms, combination smoke/CO alarms and of course fire extinguishers. Make sure you test and check them all at least once a year to ensure they are working properly as per the Canada Safety Council.

Skill Level: Beginner
  1. Step 1 Check for Expired Smoke Alarms

    Man holding a fire extinguisher to put out a microwave fire in a kitchen.

    In order to ensure your home is protected from a fire or carbon monoxide leak, it is important to check whether your smoke alarms or carbon monoxide detectors have expired, whether they’re battery-operated or hard-wired in. Simply remove your detectors from wherever they are (most are on the ceiling) and check the manufacturing date on the back. Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors expire every ten years. A helpful visual cue is to check whether the smoke alarm itself looks yellowed, especially if you’ve just moved into a new home. If your alarms are battery-powered, change the lithium-ion batteries once a year.

  2. Step 2 Plan Where to Place Smoke Alarms

    A diagram showing the correct placement of a smoke alarm 4 inches from the ceiling.

    The National Fire Protection Association recommends installing smoke alarms on every floor of the home, in hallways outsideof all sleeping areas and even inside of bedrooms if you tend to sleep with the door closed.

    When you are placing a smoke alarm, avoid areas with significant heat or steam like kitchens and bathrooms. Fire, smoke and steam can all trigger an alarm. 

    The preferred location for a smoke alarm is on the ceiling, as smoke naturally rises. The centre of the ceiling is best, but if your ceiling is oddly-shaped just make sure it’s at least four inches away from any wall. You also want to avoid corners in vaulted ceilings where the ceiling meets another ceiling because pockets of dead air can form where smoke will go undetected. Just keep the detector at least four inches away from all dead zones.

    If your alarm is wall mounted it has to be at least 4 inches from the ceiling and no more than 12 inches down the wall.

  3. Step 3 Find the Best Smoke Alarm Types for Your Home

    Close up of a smoke detector.

    There are two types of smoke alarm sensors: Ionization sensors and Photoelectric sensors.

    Ionization sensors may detect fast-flaming fires sooner, so things like paper burning in a wastebasket or a stove top grease fire. These are well-suited for general living areas.

    Photoelectric sensors may detect slow smoldering fires sooner like a cigarette burning in a couch or bedding. These are well-suited for areas near the kitchen in a home, as they are less prone to false alarms caused by cooking.

    It is recommended that you install both ionization and photoelectric smoke alarms to help ensure maximum detection of a variety of fire dangers.

    There are also combination smoke and carbon monoxide detectors that detect both sources of danger.

  4. Step 4 Create a Fire Safety Plan

    Diagram of a home’s rooms and where to keep smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers.

    Work to create a family fire safety plan and remember it by applying the rule of twos:

    Practice escape two times per year, know two ways out, practice at two different times of day – daylight and nighttime.

    Test your alarm weekly. If there is a fire in your home, get out, call 9-1-1 and don’t go back inside.

    Keep matches and lighters out of the reach of children. Use flashlights during power outages, not candles. Never leave a candle burning unattended and keep candles at least 12 inches or 30 cm away from anything flammable.

    For space heaters, clear a 3-foot ring of safety around it and turn it off when you leave the room, never leaving it unattended. Only use smoking materials outside.

What You Need for This Project

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