The fall season is a great time to get our homes fire safe in anticipation of the colder months ahead. As we begin to heat our homes again, ensure that your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms are working properly. Both should be tested monthly and new batteries added at least once a year. Remember, smoke alarms only last 10 years and need to be replaced with new alarms when they expire.

Heating Equipment Smarts

Every year, during the cooler months, home heating devices cause a number of fires throughout Edmonton. These simple tips can help keep you and your loved ones, safe.

Install and maintain carbon monoxide alarms to avoid the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

If you smell gas, do not light the appliance. Leave the building immediately and call 911 for help. You can also call the ATCO Gas emergency line, 24 hours a day, at 780-420-5585 for Edmonton and area.

All fuel-burning equipment (such as wood burning stoves) should be vented to the outside to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.

Download the  Stay Safe Sheet: Carbon Monoxide to learn more.

Home Heating Safety

  • Heating equipment needs space
    • Keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet (1 metre) away from heating equipment (such as space heaters, furnaces, fireplaces and wood stoves)
    • Establish a "kid-free" and/or "pet-free" zone at least 3 feet (1 metre) away from heating equipment
  • Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional
  • Never use your oven to heat your home

Download the  Stay Safe Sheet: Home Heating to learn more.

Electric Portable Space Heaters
  • Place the heater on a solid, flat surface
  • Make sure your heater has an auto shut-off to turn the heater off if it tips over
  • Plug space heaters directly into the wall outlet; never use an extension cord
  • Turn off and unplug space heaters when you leave the room or go to bed
  • Avoid using electric space heaters in bathrooms or other areas where they may come in contact with water
  • Don’t dry wet items (such as socks, clothing, towels, shoe felts etcetera) on space heaters
  • Ensure all furnace controls and emergency shut offs are in proper working condition
  • Inspect the walls and ceiling near the furnace and along the chimney line
    • If the wall is hot or discoloured, additional pipe insulation or clearance may be required
  • Check the flue pipes and pipe seams
    • Are they well supported? Are they free of holes and cracks? Soot along or around seams may indicate a leak.
  • Always keep furnace access covers in place
  • Be sure to lubricate your furnace fan twice a year
    • Always use proper oil and turn the furnace off prior to removing the access cover
  • Replace furnace filters regularly
  • Keep a metal screen or heat-tempered glass in front of the fireplace opening to prevent embers or sparks from jumping out and unwanted material from going in, as well as to help prevent the possibility of burns
  • Keep flammable materials away from the mantel as a spark from the fireplace can easily ignite them
  • Fully extinguish the fire when you leave the room, home, or go to sleep
    • Never close your damper with hot ashes in the fireplace. A closed damper will help the fire to heat up again, and will force carbon monoxide into the home.
  • It’s always a good idea to crack a window open for a fresh supply of air
Wood and Pellet Stoves
  • Know what to burn
    • In wood stoves, burn only dry, seasoned wood
    • In pellet stoves, burn only dry, seasoned wood pellets
  • Clean the inside of your stove periodically using a wire brush
  • Allow ashes to completely cool before disposing of them
    • Place ashes in a covered metal container
    • Keep the container at least 10 feet away from the home and other buildings
Winter Storms
  • Be ready in case the power goes out
    • Have flashlights and/or battery-powered lighting nearby with new batteries
  • Generators should be used outdoors
    • Keep generators away from windows and doors
    • Do not run a generator inside your garage, even if the door is open
  • Stay away from downed power lines 
  • Be ready in case the heat stops working
    • Use extra layers of clothes and blankets to stay warm
    • If you use an emergency heat source, keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet away 
Additional Home Winter Safety Tips

Home Exterior 

  • Clear the ice and snow off the driveway and sidewalks to ensure an easy and safe escape in the case of a fire
  • 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
  • Check the outdoor clothes dryer vent flap to make sure it is not covered with snow

Frozen Water Pipes

  • Never try to thaw them with a blow torch or other open flame as the pipe could conduct the heat and ignite the wall structure inside the wall space 
  • Use hot water or a UL-labeled device such as a hand-held dryer for thawing