Our 5 tips for fire safety this summer
Published on June 21, 2023
Summer is finally in full swing. People are spending lots of time outdoors to take advantage of the nice weather. But outdoor activities also mean an increased risk of fire. A number of summer pleasures—from barbecues to camping to fireworks—can quickly go wrong. Here are 5 tips to help keep your summer from going up in smoke.
Barbecuing involves some real risks. Whether it’s propane or charcoal, if not properly maintained and used correctly, your barbecue and its fuel could explode, catch fire and cause serious injuries. Here’s how to enjoy your grilled steaks and veggies with peace of mind.
Before lighting your barbecue, make sure it's properly set up and in good condition. We recommend giving it a good cleaning every spring to prevent grease build-up. Also, keep it away from the house: vinyl siding melts easily! And never use a barbecue in an enclosed area as grease can produce large flames. If you have a charcoal barbecue, be extra careful. Be sure to dispose of ashes properly so they don’t accidentally ignite later.
For many people, summer evenings around a fire are a family tradition. However, open-air fires can have serious consequences.
To get the most out of your outdoor fireplace or campfire, make sure you comply with current by-laws. In the city, check if you’re allowed to have a fireplace in your backyard. Position it on a stable surface and leave a clear perimeter around it. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter and don’t use it in windy conditions.
You also need to comply with municipal by-laws when having campfires at the cottage. These kinds of fires should not exceed 1 metre in width. Choose an open area surrounded by a safety perimeter. Ideally, extinguish the fire with plenty of water and make sure the ashes have cooled down before leaving the area.
It goes without saying that with any type of fire, it’s important to monitor it at all times. Keep water or an extinguisher close by so you can react quickly if anything goes wrong.
Lighting fireworks safely
Who isn’t dazzled by a stunning display of fireworks? Nevertheless, like any explosive device, pyrotechnics carry risks. Here’s how to use them safely for an unforgettable evening.
Fireworks are banned in some municipalities, so check with local authorities first to make sure they’re allowed. Read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully to avoid unpleasant surprises. Wear clothing made of natural fibres, such as cotton. Always be very careful when transporting fireworks. Never light them after consuming drugs or alcohol. You’ll need to have your wits about you in case anything goes wrong. Set off fireworks in a large open area, away from buildings and electrical lines. As with outdoor fires, keep a bucket of water handy at all times.
Fireworks designed to explode high in the air must be buried half their length in the ground or in a container filled with sand or dirt. Those that explode closer to the ground should be placed on a hard, non-flammable surface like a concrete slab. Lastly, always aim fireworks away from spectators.
Make note of the wind direction and don't light fireworks if it’s too windy. Only light fireworks that are in good condition. If one of them doesn’t go off the first time, don’t try to relight it. Wait half an hour and immerse it in a bucket of water before disposing of it.
When the show is over, collect the debris and anything used to light the fireworks. Damaged or faulty fireworks cannot be thrown in a garbage can. Instead, call your local fire department to dispose of them safely.
Smoking and fire
When sitting outside on a summer evening, smokers may be tempted to put their cigarette out in a flower pot. However, this seemingly harmless act could spark a fire. In very hot or dry weather, potting soil can become highly flammable, so put an ashtray on your balcony or in your backyard to collect ashes and cigarette butts.
Also, never leave a cigarette unattended, even for a short time. It could fall and land on something flammable. Lastly, keep matches and lighters away from children and always be sure to wet your cigarette butts before throwing them away.
You can find more tips for preventing smoking-related fires here.
People design their backyard, patio or balcony to make the most of the summer months. They enjoy this outdoor space so much that it becomes almost like another room. For comfort and ambiance, they add various items like lanterns or patio heaters. But when not used properly, all of these items can create a fire hazard.
For that reason, patio heaters should only be used outdoors. We strongly advise against using them to heat a porch or gazebo. Set them up on a stable surface, in an unobstructed area and without blocking exits. Follow the manufacturer's directions carefully. Never move them while in use.
Lanterns and candles also pose a risk. It’s best not to use them in windy conditions. Most importantly, keep them away from flammable materials like fabric or mulch.
In short, the key to fire safety is prevention. Use your devices safely and keep a working fire extinguisher handy so you can sit back and enjoy the dancing flames with complete peace of mind.
For more information on preventing losses, contact your insurance broker today!
Note: This article is for information purposes only and is not intended to replace professional advice.