Over 100 people died in Ontario fires in 2016, and sadly, about the same number may die this year. The majority of these deaths will occur right at home. In the modern home, flashover can occur in as little as 3 minutes. No one can survive a flashover condition.

City of Markham residents must be vigilant with regard to their own fire safety. Despite our best efforts, Markham Fire & Emergency Services may not be able to affect a rescue if you experience a house fire. Therefore, a planned self evacuation provides the highest probability that you and your family will escape safely.

Working smoke alarms are a must if you want to get out alive in a fire. Most fire victims die from smoke inhalation, not the fire itself. That’s why Ontario law requires that homeowners, including owners of rental units, must provide and maintain working smoke alarms on every floor of a dwelling and outside all sleeping areas.

Another step you must take to protect your family is checking that all your smoke alarms are in good working order by testing them once a month, and, if they are battery operated, replacing those batteries twice a year. Smoke alarms must be replaced at least every ten years.

Fires start small but can spread with remarkable speed, and you may have only seconds to get out. To ensure your family can leave your house quickly and safely, you should make and practice a home escape plan. The plan should include primary and secondary escape routes, a way of calling 911 from outside your building and a meeting place where you can check that everyone made it out safely.

Remember:

  • The most important thing is to get everyone out quickly.
  • Never stop to call 9-1-1 from inside the building, unless it is unsafe to leave.
  • Once outside, never go back into a burning building.
  • Have a cell phone ready to take with you, or call 9-1-1 from a neighbour’s house to alert the fire department.

If, despite your best efforts, a fire does occur in your home, your working smoke alarm will alert you in time to escape, and your home escape plan will make sure everyone knows what to do and where to go.

The Markham Fire & Emergency Services has a step-by-step guide for creating a home escape plan available online at markham.ca/fire.