For Immediate Release

Friday, May 8, 2020 - Port Hope, ON

Port Hope Fire and Emergency Services reports that fire fatalities across Ontario have increased by 65 percent compared to this time last year.

“Unfortunately, 17 Ontarians died in fires during the month of March; a staggering statistic that serves as a reminder to keep fire safety top of mind”, explains Fire Chief C. Ryan Edgar, Director of Fire and Emergency Services. “I am urging all residents to be vigilant in preventing fires in their homes, especially at a time when so many of us are at home practicing physical distancing because of COVID-19. It’s an important time to test all smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, and practice home fire escape plans.”

Between January 1 and May 4, 2019, there were 31 fire fatalities in Ontario. Over that same period this year, there have been 51 fire fatalities.

Fire and Emergency Services is recommending that all residents follow these simple guidelines to prevent a fire from starting in their homes and to know what to do if a fire is detected.

Reduce 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 and attempting to cook or smoke.
  • Encourage smokers to smoke outside the home and outside the garage. Thoroughly extinguish all smoking materials in water or sand.
  • Always blow out candles before leaving the room.
  • Avoid overloading electrical outlets. Extension cords should be used only as a temporary connection. Avoid running electrical cords under rugs, which can damage the cords and cause a fire.
  • Ensure items that can burn are at least one metre away from space heaters.
  • Do not attempt to sterilize or decontaminate face masks for re-use by heating them in a microwave oven. Various fabric or metal components can overheat or create sparks and cause a fire if heated in a microwave.

Make sure your alarms work

  • Test smoke and carbon monoxide alarms monthly by pressing the test button. Only working alarms can give you the early warning you need to safely escape your home in the event of an emergency. 

Practice your home fire escape plan

  • Ensure everyone knows two ways out of each room, if possible.
  • All exits must be unobstructed and easy to use.
  • Determine who will be responsible for helping young children, older adults and anyone who needs assistance to escape.
  • Choose a meeting place outside, such as a tree or a lamp post, where everyone can be accounted for.
  • Call the fire department from outside the home, from a cell phone or a neighbour’s home.
  • Once out, stay out. Never re-enter a burning building.
  • If you live in an apartment or high-rise building, talk to the building superintendent to learn about the emergency procedures outlined in the building’s fire safety plan.

For additional fire safety tips and information, visit

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