The best way to protect yourself during a fire is by being prepared and knowing how to respond. Innisfil's Fire Prevention team can help with your fire prevention needs, including various types of fire safety inspections.

Your role in fire safety

Everyone has a role in fire safety. Review specific legal requirements of homeowners, business owners, landlords and tenants when it comes to fire prevention, detection and reporting.

Smoke alarms

When properly installed and maintained, smoke alarms can be the difference between life and death. It's the law to have working smoke alarms installed on every storey of your home and next to all sleeping areas. Make sure your smoke alarms are working by:

  • Testing your smoke alarms at least once a month
  • Changing batteries as needed, at least twice a year
  • Replacing smoke alarms that are over 10 years old

September 28 each year is Test Your Smoke Alarm Day. Be prepared to be Saved by the Beep!

Create a home escape plan

There's no time to waste during a fire. Everyone in your home needs to know what to do and where to go when the smoke alarms sound. Take a few minutes with everyone in your home to make a fire escape plan using the steps below or this escape plan template.

Draw a floor plan

Draw a floor plan of your home that includes all doors and windows. Show two ways out of every room, if possible.

Make sure to account for special needs, such as who will assist the very young, older adults, people with disabilities or pets.

Set a meeting place outside

Choose a meeting place outside of your home, such as a tree, pole or mailbox. The meeting place should be a safe distance from your home. This is where everyone in your home will plan to meet during an emergency.

Practice the escape plan

Practice the escape plan with all members of your household. Practice during the day and at night at least twice per year. Try different escape routes each time and teach children to escape on their own, in case you're unable to help them.

Make sure to account for special needs, such as who will assist the very young, older adults, people with disabilities or pets.

Home fire escape plan

Fire safety tips

Throughout the seasons, there are particular events and activities that spark reminders for safety tips and best practices. Select any of the topics below to learn more about protecting your property and loved ones from the impacts of fire. 

Fire hydrants

In an emergency situation, every second counts. Blocked, concealed or difficult-to-access fire hydrants can slow emergency fire response. Hydrants covered in snow can be difficult to locate and uncovering them can waste valuable time.

You can help reduce the risk by keeping nearby fire hydrants accessible and clear of ice and snow. Hydrants should have a clearing of one metre (three feet) around all sides and there should be a clear path from the street to ensure firefighters can easily access the hydrants.

Alcohol, Smoking and Fire Safety

Every year, fires and fire-related deaths result when someone has been drinking and then either tried to cook or mishandled a cigarette. Even when alcohol isn't involved, smoking while tired or distracted can result in disaster. Here are some tips to increase safety:

  • Whether it's a party or just a regular day, keep a close eye on any drinkers in your home and make sure all cigarettes are properly extinguished and the stove is off before going to bed.
  • Encourage smokers to smoke outside.
  • Provide appropriate ashtrays (large and deep and not easily knocked over). Never extinguish a cigarette in a plant pot, which often contains flammables such as peat moss and shredded wood.
  • Empty ashtrays into a metal container (not the garbage can) and put it outside.
  • If people have been smoking in your home or vehicle, check for cigarettes that may have fallen between the cushions or on the floor. Remember—cigarettes can smoulder among upholstery cushions for hours before igniting.
  • Install smoke alarms on every storey and outside sleeping areas. If occupants smoke in the bedrooms, install smoke alarms inside the bedrooms as well. NEVER smoke in bed!
  • Test smoke alarms every month and replace the batteries at least once per year.

Babysitters and Fire Safety

Leaving your children in the care of a babysitter is a serious responsibility for any parent. Following these guidelines will help to ensure the experience is a safe and worry-free one for you, the babysitter and your children.

Before the babysitter arrives:

  • Go over your home fire escape plan with your children, making sure that they know the escape routes and the location of the outside meeting place.
  • Test the smoke alarms to make sure they are working. Smoke alarms will detect fire in its early stages and could give the babysitter and children time to escape.
  • Speak to a neighbour who will be home for the evening. If there is an emergency, the babysitter can contact this neighbour to get help immediately.
  • Post emergency numbers right beside the phone. Include your neighbours' name and telephone number and the telephone number where you can be reached.

When the babysitter arrives:

  • Show the babysitter around the home, pointing out the children's bedrooms and the exits from those rooms.
  • Provide the babysitter with the address of your residence (i.e. street name, house number and/or unit number). Identify the major intersection closest to the residence.
  • Review the home fire escape plan with the babysitter, indicating the location of the meeting place and the neighbour's house. Tell the babysitter that if there is smoke or fire, get the children out of the house as quickly as possible and call the fire department from the neighbour's house.
  • Show the babysitter the emergency numbers by the phone and give him or her a separate Emergency Information Sheet to keep in their pocket. They may have to leave the house quickly and run to the neighbour's. This sheet should include the telephone number where the parents can be reached.
  • If the babysitter will be cooking or heating up food, demonstrate the use of all appliances they will be required to use. 
  • Never allow babysitters to smoke while on the job.
  • Make sure that any matches and lighters in the home are kept out of the reach and sight of the children at all times.
  • Give the babysitter information about the children's routines and special needs, including allergies, medical conditions and medication.

Barbecue Safety

Few things can match the fun and enjoyment of a barbecue with family and friends. Practice sensible, safe barbecuing and your get togethers will be a sizzling success.

Season Opener

At the start of the barbecue season, do this three-step safety check of your BBQ:

  1. Clean: Use a pipe cleaner or wire to make sure the burner ports are free of rust, debris, spider webs or other debris.
  2. Check: Examine the hose leading from the tank to the burners. Replace if cracked or damaged.
  3. Test: Find leaks by applying 50/50 solution of water and dish soap to propane cylinder connections and hoses. If bubbles appear, tighten the connection and/or replace the damaged parts and retest.

When you take your propane tank to be refilled, transport it safely by placing it in a secure, upright position with the safety valve on top. It is preferable to transport it on the floor of the passenger compartment. Make sure the windows of the vehicle are open. Propane cylinders must be inspected and requalified or replaced every 10 years!

Time to get cooking

Always be careful when igniting a barbecue. Take these steps in the right order:

  1. Open the hood.
  2. Open the valve at the cylinder.
  3. Turn on the barbecue controls and light the burner using the igniter button. If there is no igniter, insert the flame from a long match or barbecue lighter through the side burner hole. Light the match before you turn on the gas at the grill controls.

​Safety tips

Even a perfectly functioning barbecue needs to be handled with care.


  • Keep loose clothing away from a hot barbecue
  • Keep children and pets at a safe distance
  • When finished, turn the gas valve off first, then turn off the burner controls, so that no gas is left in the connecting hose
  • Allow the barbecue to cool completely before closing the cover


  • Leave the barbecue unattended when in use
  • Barbecue in an enclosed space, such as a garage or tent
  • Allow grease to build up on the burners or at the base of the barbecue as this could cause a grease fire
  • Throw water on a grease fire—this will only spread the flame
  • Position your barbecue too close to wooden fences or walls. Make sure the area behind your barbecue is free of combustible material, since this is where hot gases escape

Candle Safety

Candles are responsible for hundreds of fires in Canada every year​​.​ To minimize the risk of fire when burning candles in the home, take the following advice.

Cho​ose the right candles and follow the manufacturer's instructions

  • ​Buy good quality candles that are smoke and drip-free. Cheap candles are more likely to contain harmful materials.
  • Avoid candles with multiple wicks close together​.
  • Avoid candles with decorations attached or embedded.
  • Liquid paraffin candle fuel can be toxic—keep it stored safely away from children and pets.

Choose the right holders

  • Use sturdy holders that ​will not tip over​.
  • Avoid wood and plastic candle holders, as they can catch fire.​
  • Glass hurricanes are a good idea, but choose quality holders intended for the type and size of candle you are using. Improperly used glass holders can overheat and break.

Prepare wisely

  • Before lighting the candle, trim the wick to a height of ​5 mm. Trim wicks every 2 hours.
  • Put candles on a sturdy surface away from combustible materials and out of the reach of pets and children.
  • Teach children to be careful around candles.

Don't take chances

  • Do not leave candles burning when no one is in the room.
  • Blow out all candles before you go to sleep. When you go out, blow out!​

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colourless and odourless gas. It's known as the “silent killer” because you can't see it, taste it or smell it. You must have a working carbon monoxide alarm in your home if you have:

  • Oil, propane or gas-burning appliances, a furnace or water heater
  • A wood or gas fireplace
  • An attached garage

Carbon monoxide alarms must be installed next to all sleeping areas. CO poisoning can be avoided with preventative measures and testing your alarms regularly.

Where does carbon monoxide come from?

Carbon monoxide is a by-product of the combustion of fossil fuels. Most fuel-burning equipment (natural gas, propane and oil), if properly installed and maintained, produces little CO. The by-products of combustion are usually safely vented to the outside. However, if anything disrupts the venting process (such as a bird's nest in the chimney) or results in a shortage of oxygen to the burner, CO production can quickly rise to dangerous levels. CO produced by gasoline engines or barbecues in a poorly ventilated space such as a shed or garage can enter a home through connecting walls or doorways.

How can I eliminate sources of carbon monoxide in my home?

The most important step you can take to eliminate the possibility of CO poisoning is to ensure that CO never has an opportunity to enter your home. Review this list to minimize the risk of CO in your home:

  • Have a qualified technician inspect fuel-burning appliances, chimneys and vents yearly to ensure they are in good working order.

  • If you have a powerful kitchen exhaust fan or downdraft cook top, have a qualified technician check that its operation does not pull fumes back down the chimney.

  • Never start a vehicle in a closed garage; open the garage doors first. Pull the car out immediately onto the driveway, and then close the garage door to prevent exhaust fumes from being drawn into the house.

  • Do not use a remote automobile starter when the car is in the garage, even if the garage doors are open.

  • Never operate propane, natural gas or charcoal barbecue grills indoors or in an attached garage.

  • Never run a lawnmower, snowblower or any gasoline-powered tools inside a garage or house.

  • Regularly clean the clothes dryer ductwork and outside vent cover for blockages such as lint, snow, or overgrown outdoor plants.

Chimney and Fireplace Safety

Poorly maintained fireplaces and chimneys can pose a serious risk of fire. Follow the steps below to keep your home and family safe.

  1. ​Follow the manufacturer's instructions: Carefully follow the manufacturer's instructions for installing and maintaining your chimney or appliance. If you do not have instructions, call the manufacturer. For masonry chimneys, call the builder.
  2. Inspect and clean your chimney regularly: The Ontario Fire Code requires homeowners to maintain the safety of their chimneys and inspect them at least once a year. Your chimney could have a problem you cannot see. If in doubt, consult a WETT (Wood Energy Technical Training) certified chimney sweep.
  3. Check stovepipes and connections: Ensure screws are located at every joint. Also look for leaching (dark staining or white powder) at every joint. This could be a sign of chimney trouble.
  4. Check for creosote: Creosote can form quickly and is a major cause of chimney fires. Check chimney and flue pipes often and clean when necessary—never let creosote or soot build up.
  5. Check walls for excessive heat: If the wall is very hot, it could be a sign of improper installation of the chimney or stove pipe. Check with a WETT certified chimney sweep.
  6. Install a rain cap: A rain cap should be installed on top of all metal and masonry chimneys. If you have a spark screen around the chimney cap, inspect it regularly for blockage.
  7. Watch for smoke coming into the room: This could indicate a blockage in the chimney or a faulty damper control mechanism. Check it out!
  8. Protect floors and walls from heat and sparks: Keep combustibles safely away from your appliance. Always use a properly fitting screen for your fireplace.
  9. Regularly check for signs of problems Your heating appliance, flue pipes and chimney can deteriorate over time. Look for corrosion or rust stains on the outer shell of a metal chimney and check for bulges or corrosion in its liner. Loose bricks, crumbling mortar, broken liners, dark stains or white powder indicate problems with masonry chimneys. These should be fixed immediately by a qualified mason.

Christmas Tree Safety

Fire safety precautions need to be taken when keeping a live tree in the house. 

Tree care

  • Selecting a tree: Needles on fresh trees should be green and hard to pull back from the branches. Also, the needle should not break if the tree has been freshly cut. The trunk should be sticky to the touch. Older trees can be identified by bouncing the tree trunk on the ground. If several needles fall off, the tree has probably dried out, and is a fire hazard.
  • Caring for your tree: Do not place your tree close to a heat source, including a fireplace or heat vent. The tree will dry out quickly, causing it to be more easily ignited by heat, flame or sparks. Do not put your live tree up too early or leave it up too long. Keep the tree stand filled with water at all times.
  • Disposing of your tree: Never put tree branches or needles in a fireplace or a wood burning stove. When the tree becomes dry, discard it promptly.
  • Artificial trees: If you are using a metallic or artificial tree, make sure it is flame retardant.​​

​Christmas lights

  • Maintain your Christmas lights: Inspect Christmas lights each year for frayed wires, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets, and excessive kinking or wear before putting them up. Use only lighting listed by an approved testing laboratory (ULC).
  • Do not overload electrical outlets: Unless the directions on the lights indicate it is safe, do not link more than three strands of lights. Make sure to periodically check the wires—they should not be warm to the touch.

Decorations ​​

  • Use only nonflammable decorations: All decorations should be nonflammable or flame-retardant and placed away safely away from heat sources such as the fireplace.

Cottage Safety

Extinguishers and Sprinklers

Extinguishers can put out or contain small fires, but only if you know how to use them. Before even considering using a portable extinguisher, make sure you have access to a clear exit. Also ensure that you are using the right extinguisher for the type of fire you are trying to put out. Look for these symbols that describe the extinguisher's uses:

  • Type A - Ordinary Combustibles: These include common household items such as paper, wood and cloth.
  • Type B - Flammable Liquids: Gasoline, cooking oils or fats, oil based paint and kerosene are just some of these.
  • Type C - Electrical Equipment: Wall outlets, power cords, small and large appliances, wiring and fuse boxes fall under this category

ABC symbols of fire extinguishers

How to Use an Extinguisher - Remember "P.A.S.S."

Here's a simple way to remember the steps to take when using a portable extinguisher. Start by standing around 3 metres back from the fire. Then follow the acronym "P.A.S.S."

  • Pull the pin. The pin is there as a safeguard and locks the handle. Pulling it out makes it ready to use.
  • Aim low. The hose or nozzle should be pointed at the base of the fire to best put it out.
  • Squeeze the lever above the handle. This will shoot the extinguishing substance from the hose or nozzle. Keep in mind that most small extinguishers will run out of their extinguishing agent in 10 to 25 seconds.
  • Sweep from side to side. As you move slowly toward the fire, keep the hose or nozzle aimed at the base of the fire. If the flames appear to be out, release the handle and watch closely. If the fire ignites again, repeat the process.

How to use a fire extinguisher

Keep in mind

  • Before you use an extinguisher to fight small fires, make sure everyone else has left the area and that firefighters have been called using 911.
  • Always have an exit route at your back. Never let the fire get between you and the way out.
  • Call the fire department to inspect the fire area, even if you are sure you have extinguished the fire.
  • Once a month, inspect your extinguisher for damage and make sure it is properly charged (see manufacturer's instructions for details).
  • If you use an extinguisher, it must be recharged by a professional. If it is a disposable unit, throw it out.

Fireworks Safety

Fireworks displays in your own backyard can be fun, but can also pose serious risks if proper precautions aren't taken.

Innisfil Fire & Rescue Services suggests attending public fireworks displays hosted by a responsible organization if possible. If you still choose to have family fireworks or an informal neighbourhood display, please follow these guidelines.

Be aware of your responsibility

By choosing to set off fireworks on your own property, you are taking responsibility for any harm that should occur to people or property as a result. You may want to let your neighbours know and ensure that there will be no undue hardship as a result. Every year, numerous complaints are received because of fireworks being set off late at night or too close to other properties, and this can damage relationships between neighbours.

If your yard is small and you cannot guarantee debris will fall only on your own property, do not use fireworks.

Set them off safely

  • Only ADULTS should handle fireworks—appoint ONE person to be in charge who knows the hazards and safety precautions.
  • Carefully read and follow the directions on the packaging.
  • Always keep a hose or pail of water close by.
  • Set off fireworks well away from combustible materials like buildings, trees and dry grass.​
  • Light only one firework at a time.
  • Never try to light a firework (or hold a lit firework) in your hand.
  • Never re-light “dud” fireworks. Wait 30 minutes, then soak them in a bucket of water.
  • Never give sparklers to small children. Sparklers burn extremely hot and can ignite clothing, cause blindness and result in severe burns.
  • Sparkler wires remain hot for several minutes after burnout, so soak them in water immediately to avoid injury.
  • If someone gets burned, run cool water over the wound for three to five minutes and seek medical attention if necessary.
  • Watch the fireworks as they fall to the ground, and mark their locations so that you don't miss anything. If they fall into a neighbour's yard or on their roof, you are responsible for letting them know and retrieving them if necessary.

Dispose of them wisely

  • ​​Immediately after your firework show, comb the area for any pieces that may have scattered in the explosion.
  • Use work gloves to pick up any materials that may be hot.
  • Soak all materials in a pail of water overnight (NOT in a lake or other natural body of water).
  • Pull out wicks and fuses from unspent fireworks.
  • Wrap the wet materials in plastic to keep them wet as long as possible and place them in your regular trash.

Halloween Safety

Before kids hit the streets this Halloween, check over costumes, decor and trick-or-treating plans for fire safety!

  • Consider a battery-operated or other artificial flame in your jack-o'-lantern.​
  • If you do choose a flame-lit pumpkin, use a small candle like a tea-light in a protective holder, and keep it well away from landings, stairs and doorsteps where costumes can brush against the flame.
  • Keep a light on on your porch if you are giving out candy, and ensure stairs and walkways can be clearly seen and have no trip hazards.
  • Indoors, protect your home and family by placing any candles or candlelit jack-o'-lanterns on sturdy tables, away from curtains and other flammable objects. Never leave them unattended. Always keep candles, matches and lighters out of the reach of children.
  • Check your candlelit jack-o'-lanterns regularly to ensure the flame remains low and isn't burning the pumpkin or nearby materials.

Not all adults follow our advice to keep lit pumpkins in a safe location, so prepare your kids:

  • Warn your family to steer clear of any lit-up decor, whether it appears to have an open flame or not.
  • Avoid costumes with long hems, baggy pants, long flowy sleeves or other parts that drag and could come into contact with flame or create a trip hazard. Make sure that face coverings don't limit vision, and check that kids can see where they put their feet.
  • Don't send children out alone, but always with an adult or in a group. Make sure that children know how to call 9-1-1 if they experience an emergency.

Teach children what to do should their clothing catch fire:

  1. STOP immediately
  2. DROP to the ground and cover face
  3. ROLL over and over to extinguish the flames ​

Kitchen Safety

Unsafe cooking is a leading cause of fires in the home in Ontario. Cooking fires rank first in the number of injuries and second in the number of fire fatalities. Most kitchen fires are preventable.

To prevent a kitchen fire in your home, here are some safety tips: ​

  • Remain in the kitchen when you are cooking.
  • Remember to turn off the oven and stove burners when you are finished cooking.
  • Keep electrical cooking appliances unplugged when not in use (e.g. toaster, kettle).
  • Keep a proper-fitting pot lid near the stove when cooking, and have a portable fire extinguisher close by.
  • Do not wear long sleeves or loose clothing while cooking. Long sleeves and loose fitting clothing could catch fire if they come into contact with oven or stove top burners.
  • Individuals who have long hair should tie it back.
  • Be alert when cooking. Avoid cooking when you are tired and when you are under the influence of alcohol or medications.
  • Keep combustibles away from the stove such as dish towels, paper towels and other paper products (e.g. recipe books, cardboard food boxes).
  • Turn pot handles in. Pot handles that stick out away from the stove can be easily bumped or grabbed by a small child. To prevent burns and stove-top fires, turn pot handles toward the back of the stove when cooking.
  • Whenever possible, use the rear burners.
  • Ensure cooking surfaces are kept clean. Clean up spills and grease on cooking surfaces promptly.

Electrical safety

  • Avoid overloading electrical outlets with too many appliances.
  • Carefully examine electrical cords and discard any that are frayed, cracked or damaged.
  • To prevent personal injury, ensure that electrical cords that are in use are kept out of the reach of children. ​