Public Education and Awareness

RV/Motorhome Safety Tips
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RV/Motorhome Fire Safety Tips

Whether camping, partying or just relaxing in your RV, fire safety is essential.  It is critical that every member of your party know what to do in an emergency or fire.  If you are one of the millions of recreational vehicle (RV) enthusiasts who love to take to the road and explore this great country of ours, ensure your family’s safety while travelling in your RV by following these fire safety guidelines. 

  • In an emergency, please make sure we can find you – SECONDS DO COUNT!  When travelling in an RV, it’s crucial to know your location so emergency responders can find you in the event of an emergency.  Be aware of your location and surroundings.
  • Confirm the local emergency numbers for police, fire and ambulance – is 911 service available in the area?
  • Most campgrounds are in more remote areas that may not provide cell phone coverage.  Check your cell phone coverage.
  • When you call 911 from a regular land phone line emergency services receive enhanced 911 data indicating the address and municipality of where the call is originating, should the caller be unable to provide this information.  This enhanced 911 data is not available for cell phone calls, so ensuring everyone knows the exact location in the event of an emergency is critical in obtaining a timely response from emergency services.
  • When vacationing in an isolated area, keep in mind that help from emergency services may be some distance away.  It’s vitally important that you eliminate your risk from fire and have a fire escape plan in place that everyone is familiar with and has practised.  Have at least two escape routes – one in the front and one in the rear of the RV.  Test all escape windows, hatches and door latches for smooth operation and keep all escape windows, hatches and doors clear of any obstructions.  As soon as they are old enough, teach children how to open escape hatches and emergency exits and have them practise.  LINK TO ESCAPE PLAN REQUIREMENTS.  Fire Escape Plan Guidelines
  • The first rule of RV firefighting is to save lives first and property second.  Get yourself and your family to safety before attempting to extinguish any fire.  Only if you can do so without endangering yourself or others should you use firefighting aids on hand.  Re-emphasize to everyone aboard that objects can be replaced, people can’t!  Never re-enter a burning RV to retrieve anything – GET OUT & STAY OUT!
  • Install and maintain at least one smoke alarm in your RV near the sleeping area.  Special 12v smoke alarms, designed specifically for RVs, are available from specialized retailers.  Depending on the size of your RV and placement of sleeping areas, more than one smoke alarm may be required. 
  • Install and maintain at least one carbon monoxide alarm in your RV near the sleeping area.  Special 12v carbon monoxide alarms, designed specifically for RVs, are available from specialized retailers.  Be aware that residential style carbon monoxide alarms that plug directly into the electrical outlet require 110v power and would only work and sound an alarm when your RV is plugged into an electrical source at a campground, but would not function when you are on the road or operating off of your 12v battery supply.  Consider that some low cost detectors cause false alarms, so be sure to obtain a quality unit.  Do not select a detector just on its cost.  It may not be adequate to do the job that is necessary when the time comes. 
  • Install a propane leak alarm at floor level, no more than 6 inches above the floor or lowest level to alert you in the event of a propane leak.  Propane gas, like gasoline fumes, tends to pool in low-lying spots and even a small spark can ignite it.  If you have a leak, immediately evacuate the area and shut off the propane at the tank, if it is safe to do so. 
  • Ensure that all travellers in the RV know what the sound of each type of alarm indicates and what to do when they hear it.
  • Test all smoke alarmscarbon monoxide alarms and propane leak alarms weekly when the RV is in use.
  • Install a fully charged multi-purpose or ABC fire extinguisher in a visible, easily accessible location near an exit where escape is also an option.  Make sure everyone knows where it is and how to use it.  If you already have a fire extinguisher installed, check the pressure gauge to ensure it’s fully charged, indicated by the needle in the green area.  A partially discharged fire extinguisher is always considered an empty one – have it refilled or replaced immediately.  Also keep in mind that the dry chemical inside the extinguisher tends to pack down in the bottom of the extinguisher over time, which may make it ineffective.  Once a month pick up the fire extinguisher, check the gauge or pin for pressure, turn it upside down and hit the bottom sharply with your hand, then shake it well.  This should dislodge any compacted dry chemical inside the extinguisher.  Most fire extinguishers have a lifespan of 5 to 15 years. 
  • Most residential fire extinguishers discharge in 8-10 seconds with a range of only 2 – 3.5 metres (6’–10’).  They should only be used to extinguish small, contained fires or to reduce a fire sufficiently to allow escape.
  • Remember, DON’T FIGHT A FIRE unless you call the fire department first!  A fire extinguisher is no substitute for the fire department.
  • Ensure family members know how to use the extinguishers and understand which extinguishers are effective on what types of fires
  • Have your fuel-burning appliances checked at the beginning of each camping season to ensure they are properly vented, free of any obstructions such as cobwebs, birds nests, etc., and working well.
  • Gas cylinders, pipes, fittings and connections should be checked regularly, particularly after driving on bumpy roads, which may loosen connections.
  • Only a certified propane fitter may legally install or remove propane piping, tubing equipment and appliances in an RV.  Be sure to look for approved products bearing the Canadian Gas Association (CGA), Canadian Standards Association (CSA) or Underwriters’ Laboratory of Canada (ULC) logos on the rating plate of new appliances.
  • Maintain the RV’s mechanical systems, such as radiator hoses, fuel lines, brake systems, transmission, etc., in good working order to eliminate the risk of any leaks or malfunctions that may result in a fire.
  • Ensure that the extension cord for connecting your RV to a campground’s 110v electricity supply is in good condition and of suitable gauge wire to handle the electrical load placed upon it.  Damaged extension cords must be replaced immediately.
  • Check all electrical appliances for frayed cords and any other visible
  • Electrical generators produce exhaust gasses, which contain carbon monoxide.  It is important to have the exhaust pipes extend sufficiently past the side walls or rear of the RV so that prevailing air currents can disperse this lethal gas away from the vehicle and not have it drawn back into an open window on the RV.
  • Ensure that you allow the generator to cool down before refuelling.  Always shut off the generator and any other fuel-burning appliances
  • Driving with propane on can add to the danger if you are involved in an accident or have a fire.  Shut off the propane at the tank and turn off all propane-powered appliances while driving.  Operate your refrigerator on 12v battery power or simply leave it turned off.  Most refrigerators will keep food cold or frozen for several hours, even when turned off.
  • When refuelling the propane tanks or the RV’s fuel tank it is important to shut off all interior burners, pilot lights, appliances, automatic ignition switches, as well as the RV’s motor and have all passengers exit the vehicle.
  • Propane cylinders, relief valves and regulating equipment must be located either outside the vehicle, or in a compartment gas-tight to the interior to allow any possible leaks to flow to the outside air.  Keep propane cylinders outside unless a properly designed storage compartment has been fitted on your RV.
  • Propane cylinders should not be mounted on the roof of an RV.  Propane cylinders mounted on the back of the RV pose a hazard in the event of a rear-end collision unless substantial protection to the tank is provided.
  • Show all travellers how to shut off propane valves and how to unhook 110v electrical supply cord, should either be required in an emergency.
  • Store all flammable liquids, including small disposable propane cylinders outside of the RV.
  • Whenever using the stove in your RV, open an overhead vent or turn on the exhaust fan and open a window a small amount to allow fresh air in and carbon monoxide gases out
  • The stove should never be used to heat the interior of the RV.
  • Never leave cooking unattended.
  • Store all clothes, linens and other combustibles well away from the kitchen area.  In the compact kitchens in RVs combustibles such as paper towels and curtains are likely to be closer to the stove, so exercise even greater caution than you do at home when cooking in your RV.
  • Keep all lighters and matches safely out of the reach of children.
  • Leave plenty of clearance between your propane lamp or lantern and any combustible materials.  Follow the manufacturer's recommendations for space clearance.  Select a level surface on which to place the lamp or lantern.  Ensure you have adequate ventilation whenever using a propane-powered appliance.
  • A lantern is not a space heater. Use it only as a light source. Always detach the propane cylinder before transporting a lantern and secure the cylinder in a vertical, upright position.
  • Recreational travellers to the United States should be aware that effective April 1, 2002 many states in the United States have adopted a requirement that all propane cylinders with a capacity from 4 to 40 pounds must have an Overfill Protection Device (OPD).  All propane cylinders without an OPD are prohibited from being refilled by anyone.  The OPD serves as a safety shut-off device and prevents overfilling of propane cylinders to avert propane release, fire and possible injury.  Propane cylinders equipped with an OPD have the letters “OPD” stamped on the valve hand wheel and on the side of the valve.  Most propane cylinders with a triangular valve wheel have an OPD.  Propane cylinders with a round or star-shaped valve wheel usually do not have an OPD.  Canadian provinces have not yet adopted the requirement for OPD devices on propane cylinders in order to refill the cylinder.  (NFPA 58, Section 2.3.1.5, the LP-Gas Code) 
  • Establish safe campfire rules to be followed when camping.

 

Campfire Safety Tips
 

Image of campfireCampfire Safety Tips

All it takes is one spark for things to go wrong. A carelessly abandoned campfire or a campfire built without safe clearance can turn a small fire into a dangerous and fast-moving blaze. Be sure to build your campfire in a way that does not endanger anyone or the surrounding forest. Enjoy a safe campfire by following these campfire safety tips:

 

  • Check with local authorities on open-air burning restrictions and follow local burning regulations. Keep up-to-date on fire bans in the area.
  • Never build a campfire on a windy day. Sparks or embers from the fire could travel quite a distance setting an unintentional fire.
  • Watch the wind direction to ensure sparks aren't getting on flammable materials. Put the fire out if wind changes begin to cause concern
  • Build campfires where they will not spread; well away from tents, trailers, dry grass, leaves, overhanging tree branches or any other combustible.
  • Build campfires in fire pits provided or on bare rock or sand, if no fire pit is provided.
  • Maintain a 2 to 3.5 metre (6 – 10 foot) clearance around your campfire.
  • Build a campfire surround with rocks to contain your campfire. Be aware that rocks obtained from the river may explode due to moisture in the rock becoming superheated by the campfire.
  • Use crumpled paper and/or kindling to start a fire rather than using flammable liquids.
  • Never use gasoline as an aid to starting a campfire. If a fire starter is required, use only proper lighting fluid and use the lighting fluid sparingly. NEVER PUT IT ON AN OPEN FLAME since the fire can ignite the stream of lighting fluid and the flame will travel up the stream igniting the container in your hand and causing serious injury. Once the lighting fluid has been applied to the firewood, allow a few minutes for the explosive vapours to disperse before lighting. Remove the lighting fluid container a safe distance away before lighting the campfire.
  • Secure all lighters and matches and keep them out of children’s reach.
  • Keep campfires to a small, manageable size no more than 1 metre (3 feet) high by 1 metre (3 feet) in diameter and don't let it get out of hand.
  • Don't burn garbage in your campfire. The smell is unpleasant for you and your neighbours, and may attract animals to your campsite.
  • Keep all combustible materials, including flammable liquids, propane cylinders, lighting fluid, etc. away from the campfire.
  • Stack extra wood upwind and away from the campfire so that sparks from the campfire cannot ignite your woodpile. Have sufficient wood on hand to eliminate the need to leave your campsite to restock.
  • Never leave campfires unattended. Ensure that a responsible adult is monitoring the campfire at all times. Supervise children around campfires at all times and never allow horseplay near or involving the campfire, such as jumping over a campfire. Do not allow children to run around near a campfire.
  • Closely supervise children while roasting treats over a campfire. A flaming marshmallow can easily ignite a child’s clothing. A heated metal skewer can be a burn hazard, as well as a puncture hazard.
  • Loose clothing can easily catch fire. Never reach into a campfire to rearrange pieces of wood.
  • Teach children how to STOP, DROP and ROLL should their clothing catch on fire. Teach children to cool a burn with cool running water for 3 – 5 minutes.
  • Keep plenty of water and a shovel around to douse the fire when you're done. Use caution when applying water to the campfire. Once the water has been applied, stir the dampened coals and douse it again with water. As an added precaution, shovel sand or dirt to cover the dampened coals to smother any remaining embers.
  • As little as 1 second contact with a 70°C (158°F) campfire can cause 3rd degree, full thickness burns.
  • The average campfire can get as hot as 500°C (932°F) in as little as 3 hrs.
  • The majority of children are burned the morning after a fire from coming into contact with hot ashes or embers.
  • A campfire left to burn itself out or put out with sand only, was still 100°C (212°F) eight hours later. The buried coals and embers retain their heat underground like an oven. There is also a risk that the fire may spontaneously re-ignite. A child may mistake the pile of sand or dirt as a sand castle and attempt to play in it. The temperature, less than 10 cm (4”) below the surface of the sand or dirt can be as high as 300 °C (572°F).
  • A campfire put out with water is reduced to 50°C (122°F) within 10 minutes of applying the water and reduced to 10°C (50°F) after 8 hrs. The safest way to extinguish a campfire is with water.

 

Beautiful, but Dangerous: The Risks of Using Flying Lanterns

Flying or Chinese lantern in the night skyFlying lanterns (also referred to as sky lanterns or Chinese lanterns) are traditionally used in Asian and Latin American countries during celebratory occasions. These lanterns have become popular in North America and are often used as part of a celebration (e.g. weddings, seasonal holidays, etc.), in which the lanterns are released into the night sky to bring good luck or to add pizzazz to a festivity. Recently, there has been growing concern about these lanterns as they present a fire hazard especially during such dry conditions. Some municipalities have banned them entirely due to this concern.

Flying lanterns are constructed from a paper material that is stretched over a metal or wooden frame. The lantern is propelled by a heat source inside, such as a flame. The flame generates heat, causing the lantern to float into the sky. The lantern stays in flight until the heat source dies out, which allows the lantern to float back down to the ground. These lanterns can stay in flight for as long as 20 minutes, allowing them to travel very long distances. Many retail outlets sell lanterns with a flame resistant outer covering; however, the lanterns still pose a risk as they could land while still lit. Further, the material that they are constructed from could become very hot or be flammable if they are not constructed from flame resistant materials. Given the dry summer season that we have been having in many parts of Ontario and Canada, a hot or flammable lantern touching down on dry vegetation or flammable materials has the potential to cause a fire.

The North Kawartha Emergency Services is asking residents to refrain from the use and purchase of flying lanterns because of the fire and safety concern they present. If you have any questions or concerns regarding flying lanterns, please contact Fire Chief Jesse Lambe at (705)-656-4445, ext. 221.    

Please see the attached Communique from the Office of the Fire Marshal:
2012-13 and 2009-07.
Fire Extinguishers
Types

To understand how to properly choose and use a fire extinguisher, you must first understand that there are different types of fires, and no single type of fire extinguisher is suitable for all fires.

Fires are divided into four different classes, which are:

Types of Fires
Class TypeDescription
graphics1 Class "A" Fires Ordinary combustibles such as wood, cloth, paper, rubber, etc. The symbol for this class is a green triangle.
graphics2 Class "B" Fires Flammable or combustible liquids, flammable gasses, grease, oil and similar material. The symbol for this class is a red square. 
graphics3 Class "C" Fires A class 'C' fire is any fire which involves live electrical equipment. Once the electricity has been shut off, the fire becomes the class of whatever material is burning. The symbol for this class is a blue circle.
graphics4  Class "D" Fires Certain combustible metals such as sodium, magnesium, potassium, etc. You should not have to worry too much about this type of fire in your home. The symbol for this class is a yellow star.
More fire extinguisher safety tips
Homes and Cottages in the wilderness setting
Living and vacationing in beautiful cottage country as we do here in North Kawartha it is important to understand how to live and play in a wilderness setting so that we don't have horrible tragedies with forest fires. For information on being fire smart visit: https://www.mcscs.jus.gov.on.ca/english/FireMarshal/OFMLanding/OFM_main.html

 

 

 

 

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