Fire Marshal Warns Ontarians to Never Use Microwave Ovens to Sterilize Face Masks

With more people staying at home, fire prevention needs to be top of mind

Ontario’s Fire Marshal is urging all Ontarians to follow the recommendations of medical and health professionals on how to use and clean personal protective equipment (PPE) and stresses that microwave ovens should never be used to sterilize a face mask.

“Heating a face mask in a microwave, in an effort to decontaminate it, is a potential fire risk and should never be done,” said Jon Pegg, Ontario Fire Marshal, in response to suggestions that microwaves can be used to sterilize masks for re-use.

Microwave ovens are not designed to heat cloth materials, so there is a risk of the mask overheating and catching fire. Many disposable masks also have a metal nose wire or staples holding the straps which can cause sparks or a fire if heated in a microwave.

The Fire Marshal is reminding everyone that fire safety is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic when so many families are staying at home and doing more cooking. Ontarians need to be especially vigilant about fire prevention as fire and smoke can travel so quickly that firefighters may not be able to rescue someone in time.

“There have been 51 fire fatalities between Jan. 1 and May 4, a 65 % increase over the same time period last year, with 17 Ontarians dying in fires this past March alone,” noted Pegg.

To reduce potential fire risks in your home:

  • Always stay in the kitchen when you are cooking – unattended cooking is a leading cause of home fires
  • Keep a close eye on anyone drinking alcohol while attempting to cook or smoke
  • Encourage smokers to smoke outside the home and garage and thoroughly extinguish all smoking materials in water or sand
  • Always blow out candles before leaving the room or going to bed
  • Avoid overloading electrical outlets and running electrical cords under rugs or furniture which can damage the cords and cause a fire
  • Ensure items that can burn are at least one metre away from space heaters
  • Test your alarms by pressing the test button – only working smoke alarms give you the early warning required to safely escape a fire in your home
  • Practice your home fire escape plan and make sure everyone knows two ways out of each room, if possible
  • Keep all exits clear of obstructions that might hinder a safe escape.

For more information on fire safety, visit www.ontario.ca/firemarshal

November 1, Clocks Fall Back, Change Your Clocks, Change Your Batteries!

Clocks will fall back one hour at 2 am on November 1 and the Mattawa Fire Department is recommending that Mattawa residents install new batteries in their smoke and carbon monoxide alarms when they change their clocks.

In order for smoke and carbon monoxide alarms to do their job, they need to have working batteries. Once a year, old batteries should be replaced with new batteries.

In order to survive a fire, you need to be provided with an early warning and know what to do when the smoke alarms sound. Working smoke alarms are required on every storey of the home and outside all sleeping areas. For added protection, it is recommended to also install smoke alarms inside all bedrooms.

Carbon monoxide alarms must be installed outside all sleeping areas if your home has a fuel-burning appliance, fireplace or attached garage.

Tampering with or removing the batteries from your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms is against the law. Failure to comply with the Fire Code can result in a ticket for $360 or a fine of up to $50,000.

For more information contact any of the following Mattawa Fire Department representatives:

OFM Public Education – November 2020


What’s the risk this month?

  • 8% of annual loss fires occur
  • Average of 38 injuries
  • Average of 7 fatalities

Top ignition sources:

  • cooking
  • heating equipment
  • cigarettes

*2009-2018 Ontario avg. fire losses, Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management (injuries and fatalities above are for civilians only)


Fire Safety Concerns for this Month

  • heating equipment
  • cooking
  • smoking

Prevention

Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week is November 1-7, 2020

Heating Fire Safety
Cooking Fire Safety
Smoking Fire Safety

Fall Fire Safety Tips:

TSSA Autumn Cleanup Checklist
TSSA Autumn Watch Booklet

Change Your Clocks, Change Your Batteries

Clocks will fall back one hour at 2 am on November 1. Remember to change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide alams.


Detection

Fire Safety Equipment


Escape

Plan Your Escape


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Keep fire safety in mind as temperatures drop!

Mattawa Fire Department is urging everyone to keep fire safety in mind as the temperatures turn colder.  

We often see more home fires during the winter months due to heating equipment and appliances. People need to pay close attention to potential fire hazards such as fireplaces, furnaces, chimneys and vents, and space heaters.” 

There are some simple things people can do to stay fire safe during the colder months: 

  • Have all fuel-burning appliances inspected annually by a registered fuel contractor. Go to heating.tssa.org to find a contractor near you.
  • Keep chimneys and intake/exhaust vents for furnaces and heating appliances free of debris, ice and snow accumulations to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide (CO) build-up from inefficient combustion.
  • Burn dry, well-seasoned wood in fireplaces and woodstoves to reduce the risk of excessive creosote build-up in chimneys.
  • Allow ashes from your fireplace or woodstove to cool before emptying them into a metal container with a tight-fitting lid. Keep the container outside.
  • Keep space heaters at least one metre (3 feet) away from anything that can burn, including curtains, upholstery and clothing.
  • Replace worn or damaged electrical wires and connections on vehicles and extension cords and use the proper gauge extension cord for vehicle block heaters.
  • Consider using approved timers for vehicle block heaters rather than leaving heaters on all night.
  • Ensure that vehicles are not left running inside any garage or building.
  • Ensure there is a working smoke alarm on every storey and outside all sleeping areas of your home.
  • Install CO alarms to alert you to the presence of this deadly gas.

Mattawa Fire Department reminds everyone that the Ontario Fire Code requires smoke alarms to be installed on every storey of your home and outside all sleeping areas. Carbon monoxide alarms are required outside all sleeping areas if the home has a fuel-burning appliance, a fireplace or an attached garage. For more information about smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, or fire safety, contact Mattawa Fire Department.

More Information on … Heating Fire Safety