Family in kitchen

A fatal home fire might happen at night when you're sleeping. Fires create smoke and poisonous gases that can numb your senses and put you into a deep sleep. Smoke alarms can save your life by alerting you to a fire and giving you enough time to escape safely.

Create your home escape plan

Smoke alarms will alert you to a fire but you and your family should know what do during an emergency. You should plan your escape routes and practice your home escape plan at least twice a year. Everyone in your family should know what a smoke alarm sounds like and two ways out of every room.

Choose a family meeting place outside where your family can gather and call 9-1-1.

Remember, once you're out, stay out. Never go back inside a burning building.

Smoke alarms

Smoke alarms are a key part of a home fire escape plan. When there is a fire, smoke spreads fast.  working smoke alarms give you early warning so you can get outside quickly.  

Choosing a smoke alarm

Ionization and photoelectric alarms are both good options, provided that you install and maintain them correctly.

Ionization alarms check for electrically-charged particles called ions. When smoke enters the alarm, it can detect the change of electrical balance of the air and sounds an alarm.

Photoelectric alarms use a beam of light and a light sensor. If smoke enters the alarm, it changes the amount of light that reaches the sensor and the alarm sounds.

Check manufactures recommendations for type and install location.

Installing smoke alarms

Make sure to read and follow the alarm's instructions. We recommend that you install smoke alarms inside and outside each bedroom and sleeping area.  Install alarms on every level of the home.  Install alarms in the basement.  

Maintaining smoke alarms

Make sure that you test and clean all your smoke alarms on a regular basis. Follow manufactures instructions for testing, maintenance, battery replacement and alarm expiration.

Safety Tips

  • Large homes may need extra smoke alarms
  • It is best to use interconnected smoke alarms.  When one smoke alarm sounds they all sound.
  • Test all smoke alarms at least one a month.  Press the test button to be sure the alarm is working.
  • A smoke alarm should be on the ceiling or high on a wall.  Keep smoke alarms always from the kitchen to reduce false alarms.  They should be at least 10 feet (3 meters) from the stove.
  • People who are hard-of-hearing or deaf can use special alarms.  These alarms have strobe lights and bed shakers.
  • Replace all smoke alarms when they are 10 years old. 


A closed door may slow the spread of smoke, heat and a fire.

Roughly 3 out of 5 fire deaths happen in homes with no smoke alarms or the alarms are not working. 

 Carbon monoxide

Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless, and tasteless gas, which takes away oxygen from the blood if inhaled. Carbon monoxide poisoning can lead to unconsciousness, brain damage, or death. If you suspect carbon monoxide in your home or your carbon monoxide alarm goes off, go outside and call 9-1-1.

Signs and symptoms

Symptoms include:

  • dizziness
  • headaches
  • fatigue
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • loss of muscle control

It can often be confused with influenza.

Carbon monoxide detectors

You should install a carbon monoxide detector in your home and test it regularly. The detector's manual should take you through how to test your alarm. Make sure to install detectors outside all sleeping areas of your home.

Safety tips and prevention

  • CO alarms should be installed in a central location outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home and in other locations where required by applicable laws, codes or standards.  For the best protection, interconnect all CO alarms throughout the home.  When one sounds, they all sound.
  • Follow the manufacture's instructions for placement and mounting height.
  • Choose a CO alarm that is listed by a qualified testing laboratory.
  • Text CO alarms at least once a month; replace them according to the manufacture's instructions.
  • If the audible trouble signal sounds, check for low batteries .  If the battery is low, replace it.  If it still sounds, call 9-1-1.  
  • If the CO alarm sounds, immediately move to a fresh air location outdoors or by an open window or door.  Make sure everyone inside the home is accounted for.  Call for help from a fresh air location and stay there until emergency personnel arrive.
  • If you need to warm a vehicle, remove it from the garage immediately after starting it.  Do not run a vehicle or other fueled engine or motor indoors, even if garage doors are open.  Make sure the exhaust pipe of a running vehicle is not covered with snow.
  • During and after a snowstorm, make sure vents for the dryer, furnace, stove, and fireplace are clear of snow build-up. 
  • A generator should be used in a well-ventilated location outdoors away from windows, doors and vent openings.
  • Gas or charcoal grills can produce CO - use only outside. 

Use your appliances in ventilated areas

You should never use barbeque grills, gasoline-powered engines, kerosene stoves, or charcoal grills in closed spaces. Never leave your vehicle's motor running in your garage. Even if you have the garage doors open, carbon monoxide from your vehicle can go into your house if you have an attached garage.

 Apartment and high-rise safety

Know your building's plan

Check your building's floor plans and evacuation procedures. These must be posted on every floor. You should know where to go and what to do if a fire alarm sounds in your building. Connect with your property or building manager if you have any questions about what to do during a fire emergency.

Plan ahead for accessibility

Choose someone to help anyone with accessibility issues who might need help to leave your building quickly and safely. If you have mobility issues, speak you’re your neighbours and plan ahead.

Fire in your suite

If you have a fire in your suite, follow your home escape plan. If possible, activate the building alarm while exiting.

Escaping the fire

If you hear your building's fire alarm or an announcement over the public address system, exit the building and follow all directions.

Use the exit stairways and make sure that you close all doors behind you, which will help to slow the spread of the fire. You should never use an elevator during a fire emergency.

If your escape route gets smoky, you should crawl low to get underneath the smoke. The clearest air is nearer to the floor. Return to your suite or use an alternate escape route if you can't get through because of too much smoke, heat, or fire. Never go to the roof of your building as you could become trapped without any means of escape.

Check before you open a door

Always check doors before you open them. You should kneel or crouch against the door to check its frame and doorknob with the back of your hand. If it feels cool, put your shoulder against the door and open it carefully.

Slam the door shut if you see flames or smoke on the other side. You should use another escape route or stay in your apartment.

Protect yourself if you have to stay

If you can't leave your apartment, you should protect yourself by placing towels, sheets, or clothes around the door and vents to keep out smoke.

Call 9-1-1 and let them know where you are.

If there isn't any smoke outside your window, open it, and signal for help with a bright towel, sheet, or flashlight.