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Seasonal Safety Tips

Holiday Safety Heating Applicance Safety Candle Safety
Winter Safety Electrical Fire Safety Student Safety
BBQ Safety Halloween Safety Apartment Safety
Cooking Safety Fireworks Safety Spring/Summer Safety


Holiday Safety

The holiday season can be a joyous time; Sault Ste. Marie Fire Services wants you to be safe in your home when you use the following holiday decorations.


December is the peak time of year for home candle fires. In December, more home candle fires begin with decorations compared to the rest of the year.

  • Never use lit candles to decorate the tree.
  • Never leave a burning candle unattended. Blow out candles when you leave a room or go to sleep.
  • Use sturdy, safe candle holders. Protect candle flames with glass shades or containers.
  • Keep candles at least 3 feet away from things that can burn, such as Christmas trees, decorations and curtains.
  • Keep children and pets away from burning candles.
  • Consider using battery-operated candles, which can look, smell, and feel like real candles

Christmas Trees

Although Christmas tree fires are not common, when they do occur, they are more likely to be serious. Be fire safe during the holiday season by following these precautions.

For Natural Trees:

  • Cut your own tree, or buy a fresh green one that's not shedding its needles.
  • Place the tree in a sturdy non-tip stand and at least 3 feet away from heat sources such as: fireplaces, candles, lights, or radiators.
  • Make sure the tree does not block an exit.
  • Check the water level for the tree each day. Add water daily, or as needed.
  • Dispose of the tree within 4 weeks, or sooner if it dries out. Store it away from the house or garage.
For Artificial Trees:

  • Be sure the tree is flame retardant.
  • Inspect the lights on pre-lit trees for damage prior to use.
  • Place the tree at least 3 feet away from heat sources such as: fireplaces, candles, lights, or radiators.
  • Make sure the tree does not block an exit.

Decorative Lights

  • Purchase and use only electrical appliances and equipment that have been certified by a recognized agency such as ULC or CSA.
  • Inspect all cords and lights before use. If cords are damaged, discard immediately. If lights are broken or damaged replace or discard immediately.
  • Do not overload electrical outlets or run extension cords under carpets, across doorways or near heat sources.
  • Make sure outdoor decorative lights, extension cords and outlets are weatherproof or identified for outdoor use.
  • Unplug all decorative lights before leaving your home or going to bed.
  • Take down outdoor decorative lights after 90 days, to prevent damage from weather and animals.

Winter Safety

Colder weather resides in Northern Ontario for roughly 6 months of the year. It is important to prepare your household for cold weather and long winter nights. Keep these safety tips in mind when preparing your house for the winter freeze.


  • Keep a glass or metal screen in front of the fireplace opening to prevent embers or sparks from jumping out, unwanted material from going in, and help prevent the possibility of burns to occupants.
  • Keep flammable materials away from your mantel. A spark from the fireplace could easily ignite these materials.
  • Have the chimney inspected annually and cleaned if necessary, especially if it has not been used for some time.
  • Before you go to sleep, be sure your fireplace fire is out. Never close your damper with hot ashes in the fireplace. A closed damper will help the fire to heat up again, and will force toxic carbon monoxide into the home.

Furnace Heating

  • Be sure all furnace controls and emergency shutoffs are in proper working condition.
  • Leave furnace repairs to qualified specialists. Do not attempt repairs yourself unless you are qualified.
  • Inspect the walls and ceiling near the furnace and along the chimney line. If the wall is hot or discolored, additional pipe insulation or clearance may be required.
  • Check the flue pipes and pipe seams. Are they well supported? Free of holes and cracks? Soot along or around seams may indicate a leak.
  • Keep trash and other combustibles away from the heating system.

Winter Safety Reminders

  • If there is a fire hydrant near your home, you can assist the fire department by keeping the hydrant clear of snow so it can be located in an emergency. The fire hydrant should be cleared 3ft on either side of snow and ice.
  • Frozen water pipes? Never try to thaw them with a blow torch or other open flame equipment. The pipe could conduct the heat and ignite the wall structure inside the wall space. Use hot water or a ULC/CSA labeled device such as a hand-held dryer for thawing.
  • Avoid using electric space heaters in bathrooms or other areas where they may come in contact with water.
  • Be sure every level of your home has a working smoke alarm, and be sure to test and clean it on a monthly basis.
  • Clear all vents of snow for proper ventilation. Help prevent carbon monoxide poisoning in your home.

Heating Appliance Safety

Weather in Northern Ontario can change quickly. It is important to be prepared for colder weather and keep these safety tips in mind.

  • During the holiday season furniture often gets rearranged. Make sure heating appliances have enough space - keep portable heaters at least 3 feet from anything that can burn.
  • Do not let combustible material get close to sources of ignition.
  • Ensure that all heating appliances are ULC approved.
  • Do not use heaters to dry shoes or clothes.
  • Remember to have your furnace inspected each year by a licensed technician.
  • Your chimney should also be cleaned and inspected annually to prevent problems that may cause a build-up of carbon monoxide.

Electrical Fire Safety

Electricity is a necessity of life for most people. It is important to remember these safety tips before flipping the switch.

  • Purchase and use only electrical appliances and equipment that have been certified by a recognized agency such as ULC or CSA.
  • Inspect all electrical outlets before each use. If the outlet is damaged or cracked do not use. Turn the power to the outlet off from the breaker immediately. Have the outlet replaced with an outlet that is approved for use in Canada.
  • During the holiday season there is often a tendency to overload wall outlets. This is an unsafe practice and should be avoided even for short durations.
  • All cords and powerbars need to be approved for use in Canada. Read the labels and manufacturer's instructions to ensure proper use.
  • Inspect all cords before using. Look for loose connections, frayed or exposed wire. Discard any defective or damaged cords.
  • Insert plugs fully into outlets. Poor contact may cause overheating or shock.
  • To avoid possible overheating, do not coil or bunch an extension cord which is in use and do not run it under carpets or rugs.

BBQ Safety

Outdoor cooking and grilling is largely performed in the summer months. It is important to remember a few safety tips when you light up the grill this summer.

  • Make sure children stay away from the barbeque.
  • When using a match or lighter, always light it before turning on the gas to prevent excessive gas build-up. If the barbeque is equipped with an electronic igniter, follow the directions on the control panel.
  • Both propane and natural gas flames should be mostly blue with yellow tips. If the flame is mostly yellow, do not use the barbeque. Contact a qualified gasfitter.
  • Prevent grease from dripping onto the hoses or cylinder. Grease build-up is a fire hazard.
  • Never store extra propane cylinders indoors. Store them outside with the proper covering to avoid a potential hazard.
  • Never store extra propane cylinders under or near your barbeque. Excess heat may overpressure the cylinder and cause it to release propane from the cylinder relief valve.
  • Never use a barbeque indoors; doing so causes a build-up of poisonous carbon monoxide gas.
  • After barbequing, make sure the barbeque is turned off and the burner flames are out. Also, make sure the gas supply is turned off and the lid is closed.

Halloween Safety

Halloween can be a fun time for people of all ages. Be mindful of these safety tips to ensure it stays a safe and fun time of year.

  • Keep all Halloween decorations at least 3 feet away from lights, heaters, and appliances that produce heat.
  • Use battery operated candles in pumpkins and as decorations.
  • Make sure all lights, smoke machines, and electrically powered decorations are certified for use in Canada by a recognized agency such as ULC or CSA.
  • Do not overload power cords or electrical circuits.

Candle Safety

Candles may look pretty and smell nice, but they are a cause of home fires - and home fire deaths. Remember, a candle is an open flame, which means that it can easily ignite anything that can burn.

  • Never leave a burning candle unattended. Blow out candles when you leave a room or go to sleep.
  • Use sturdy, safe candle holders. Protect candle flames with glass shades or containers.
  • Keep candles at least 3 feet away from things that can burn, such as Christmas trees, decorations and curtains.
  • Keep children and pets away from burning candles. Keep matches and lighters up high on a shelf, out of children's reach, or in a locked cabinet.
  • Avoid the use of candles in the bedroom and other areas where people may fall asleep.
  • Consider using battery-operated candles, which can look, smell, and feel like real candles.
  • Have flashlights and battery-powered lighting ready to use during a power outage. Avoid using candles as a light source.

Apartment Safety

Apartment buildings are a common dwelling for people in Sault Ste. Marie. These buildings are designed to keep people safe from fire by having fire alarm systems to detect smoke and fire.

Each unit in the building should have it's own working smoke alarm. The building itself should have working smoke detectors that will activate the fire alarm system.

  • In a fire, smoke detectors sense smoke and activate the fire alarm. Manual fire alarm boxes (red pull stations) allow people to sound the alarm.
  • Everyone in the building should know where to locate the manual fire alarm boxes (red pull stations).
  • If there is a fire in your unit, pull the nearest manual fire alarm box when leaving the building. This will alert all residents of a fire in the building.
  • If the fire alarm system sounds, leave the building right away. Stay outside in your designated meeting place at a safe distance away from the building.
  • Treat every fire alarm as an emergency. When the alarm sounds, get outside!
  • Meet with your landlord or building manager to learn about the fire safety features, plans, and procedures for your building.

Escape 101

  • Know the locations of all exit stairs from your floor. If the nearest one is blocked by fire or smoke, you may have to use another exit.
  • Do not use the elevator in an emergency situation.
  • If the alarm sounds, feel the door before opening. If it is hot, use another way out. If it is cool, use this exit to leave.
  • Close all doors behind you as you leave. This helps prevent the spread of fire in the building. Take your keys with you in case the doors lock when they are closed.
  • If fire or smoke is blocking all exits, return or stay in your apartment. Keep the door closed. Cover cracks around the door with towels or tape. Call 9-1-1 and let the fire department know you are trapped. Signal from the window to make them aware of your exact location.
High-Rise Building Safety Tips

Student Safety

Whether you live On-Campus or Off-Campus fire safety plays an important role in your everyday life. It is crucial that all students know their role in fire safety, no matter where they live.

On-Campus Living

  • Make sure to read and follow the On-Campus fire safety procedures. If you are unsure where to find them or if you any questions contact your Residence Advisor.
  • Participate in Fire Drills and know what to do in the event of an emergency.

Off-Campus Living

Tips for a Safe Place to Live
  1. You must have working smoke alarms: it's the law. Your room or apartment must have working smoke alarms. Test them monthly and notify the landlord/owner immediately if they are not working.
  2. Have an escape plan. You should know two ways out of your room or apartment in case of fire. Make sure to practice your plan on a regular basis.
  3. Avoid unattended cooking: Stay in the kitchen when cooking. If a pot catches fire, have a properly sized lid or cooking sheet available to slide over the pot and turn off the element.
  4. Keep things that burn at least 3 feet away from heat sources like stovetops, space heaters, and electronic equipment.
  5. Avoid using candles: If you do use candles, keep them away from anything that can burn and place them in a safe, sturdy holder.
  6. Keep an eye on excessive drinkers: Alcohol is a common factor in many fire deaths involving cooking and smoking.
  7. Smoke outside: Establish rules for smokers.
  8. Use electricity wisely: Do not use damaged outlets and discard any electrical cords that are frayed or damaged. Appliances like toasters, coffeemakers and microwaves should be plugged directly into an outlet. Only use power bars that are certified for use in Canada by a registered agency such as ULC or CSA.
  9. Be equipped: Make a kit that has a battery powered lantern or flashlight, a radio, extra batteries, an emergency contact list, and a fire safety plan.
  10. Learn more: For more information about fire safety in student accommodations, contact your local fire department 705-949 -3377.

Cooking Safety

Cooking brings family and friends together, provides an outlet for creativity and can be relaxing. However, did you know that cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires and home injuries? By following a few safety tips you can prevent these fires from happening in your home.

Watch What You Heat

Cooking left unattended is the cause of 52% of all cooking fires.
  • Be on alert! If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol or drugs don't use the stove or stovetop.
  • Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, boiling, grilling, or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
  • If you are simmering, baking, or roasting food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire - oven mitts, cooking utensils, food packaging, towels or pot holders - away from your stovetop.
  • Have a kid-free zone of at least 3 feet (1 metre) around the stove and areas where hot food is prepared or carried.

If you have a small (grease) cooking fire and decide to fight the fire...

  • On the stovetop, smother the flames by sliding a lid over the pan and turning off the burner - (if you don’t have a lid - use a cooking sheet or cutting board). Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.
  • For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.

If you have any doubt about fighting a small fire...

  • Just get out! When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire.
  • Call 9-1-1 from outside the home.


  • The average dollar loss per cooking fire is over $27,000.
  • Stovetop fires account for 71% of all cooking fires.

Fireworks Safety

Fireworks are often used to mark special events and holidays. However, fireworks cause thousands of burns and eye injuries each year. To minimize the risk of fire and burn injury, the fire service does not recommend family fireworks or informal neighbourhood displays.

The fire service recommends attending public fireworks displays hosted by your municipality or other responsible organization.

If you choose to have a family fireworks or an informal neighbourhood display, check our local fire department regulations regarding fireworks. View Fireworks By-law 2013-46.

Here are some important safety tips to be followed:

  • Appoint a responsible person to be in charge. Only adults who are aware of the hazards and essential safety precautions should handle and discharge fireworks.
  • Carefully read and follow the label directions on fireworks packaging.
  • Always keep a water hose or pail of water close by when discharging fireworks.
  • Discharge fireworks well away from combustible materials like buildings, trees and dry grass.
  • Keep onlookers a safe distance away, upwind from the area where fireworks are discharged.
  • Light only one firework at a time and only when they are on the ground. Never try to light a firework in your hand or re-light dud fireworks. For dud fireworks, it is best to wait 30 minutes and soak them in a bucket of water. Dispose of them in a metal container.
  • Discharge fireworks only if wind conditions do not create a safety hazard.
  • Keep sparklers away from children. Sparklers burn extremely hot and can ignite clothing, cause blindness and result in severe burns. As the sparkler wire remains hot for some minutes after burnout, it should be immediately soaked in water to avoid injury.
  • If someone gets burned, run cool water over the wound for three to five minutes and seek medical attention, if necessary.

Spring/Summer Safety

As the season changes and winter slowly melts away, it is important to remember these helpful fire safety tips:

  • Test smoke alarms at least monthly as well as each time you return from vacation.
  • If you have a fuel-burning appliance or an attached garage, ensure to install and test carbon monoxide alarms in your home.
  • Check the date on the back of all alarms to ensure they are not past the manufactures recommended expiry date.
  • Develop and practice a home fire escape plan to ensure everyone knows what to do if the smoke alarm sounds.
  • Clean barbecues before using them. Keep an eye on lit barbecues and ensure all combustibles, as well as children and pets are kept well away from them. Fires can happen when barbecues are left unattended.
  • Keep barbecue lighters and matches out of sight and reach of children.
  • Remember to have a flashlight with extra batteries.
  • Check heating appliances and chimneys before using them.
  • Use lighting and power tools that are listed by a qualified test laboratory and make sure they are made for outdoor use.
  • Store electrical tools indoors. Inspect tools before each use. If cords are damaged or frayed do not use.
  • Use extension cords that are listed by a qualified test laboratory and are marked for outdoor use. Inspect all cords, if they are damaged or frayed do not use them.
  • Extension cords are not meant for permanent use.
  • If you are planning on open-air burning on your property you must have an open-air burning permit. Adhere to all regulations on your open-air burning permit. Only burn, clean dry wood and always keep a bucket of water, sand, or even a shovel close by, and supervise the fire at all times.
  • If you must smoke, do so outside. Keep a large can with water nearby so cigarette butts can be safely discarded. If you drink, do so responsibly. Tobacco use and excessive alcohol consumption are contributing factors in many fires and can lead to serious injuries.
  • If you are burning candles outdoors, ensure they are in sturdy candleholders that will not tip and are covered with a glass shade. When you leave the area, make sure to blow out all candles.

Contact Us

705-949-3333 (24 hours)

Email not monitored 24/7
For emergencies call 9-1-1



72 Tancred Street
Sault Ste. Marie, ON
P6A 2W1

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