Forest fires are currently raging in several regions of Québec.

Consult the list of all forest fires that are currently active This hyperlink will open in a new window. in Québec.

Consult Urgence Québec to know instructions issued by the authorities to ensure your safety This hyperlink will open in a new window.

Forest fires occur frequently in Québec, often being caused by human activity. If you are an outdoor enthusiast or if you live in a wooded area, it is important for you to take preventive measures to avoid starting a forest fire. These fires can result in considerable property losses, and even loss of life.

What to do before

Prepare an emergency kit This hyperlink will open in a new window..

Prepare a family safety plan This hyperlink will open in a new window..

Obtain the current fire danger and prevention measures information This hyperlink will open in a new window. from the Société de protection des forêts contre le feu (SOPFEU).     

Refer to the advice for property owners on how to reduce the risks associated with forest fires This hyperlink will open in a new window. (in French only) prepared by the Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs.

Protect your house and your property

Control vegetation around your home, your cottage or your trailer, if in a forest or in the vicinity of one, to avoid the concentration of flammable plants close to buildings.

Delineate a fire stop (area with no trees, hay or wood) between plants and buildings.

Store building materials, firewood and propane tanks more than 10 m away from any building.

Clear away all vegetation within a radius of 3 m of a propane storage tank in order to reduce the risk of a fire spreading.

Keep near your home a hose or a water supply of at least 200 litres in order to take prompt action in the event of a fire.

If you smoke outdoors, put out your cigarette against a rock or bury it in the ground (having no humus or organic material).

The roofing material and siding material are the most vulnerable building components. Remove any combustible debris and properly maintain the roof and siding to reduce the risk of fire. A thorough inspection and regular maintenance are needed to reduce the risk of fire caused by direct flames, but also by firebrands, sparks and embers carried by the wind.

Inspect your windows and doors, including the garage door, testing their seals and thereby preventing materials on fire to enter.

Regularly clean your deck by removing debris. Do not store combustible materials beneath it (e.g. wood, propane tank).

Follow weather bulletins and fire danger indexes by consulting the media or by visiting SOPFEU’s page Restrictions in effect This hyperlink will open in a new window. and Environment Canada’s Public Weather Alerts This hyperlink will open in a new window..

Prepare yourself before taking part in activities in the forest

Always respect the municipal bylaws governing outdoor fires.

Do not smoke in, or near, the forest. 

Check whether an open-fire ban, in the forest or in its vicinity, is in effect.

To ensure safety when making a campfire, follow the 5 steps below:

  1. Choose a cleared location on mineral soil, which contains no combustible material (leaves, grass or other).
  2. Start a fire with a maximum dimension of one metre by one metre.
  3. Monitor your fire constantly and always have water handy.
  4. Extinguish your fire by dousing it with water and stirring the embers.
  5. Check to make sure that the ashes are no longer giving off any heat.

When camping or during a stay in a controlled harvesting zone (ZEC), consult the fire danger signs This hyperlink will open in a new window. at park entrances to learn of the danger of fire.

What to do during

Before setting out, check road conditions on Québec 511 This hyperlink will open in a new window. website or call 511.

Comply with the signs posted, particularly in the vicinity of forest roads, regardless of the means of transportation used (car, on foot, ATV, canoe, aircraft).

Respect the safety perimeters established when there is a ban on access to and movement in the forest. 

Determine a number of escape routes, since a forest fire can restrict or block traffic.

Determine a safe place to take refuge if evacuation is not possible. 

Keep the windows of your vehicle closed and circulate air inside the vehicle only to prevent smoke from entering the vehicle.

Make sure that nothing is missing from your car’s emergency kit (French only) and that it is in the trunk of your vehicle.

Inform your loved ones of your trip and the route that you will take.

Ensure that your vehicle is mechanically sound and has sufficient fuel to make it to your destination.

Protect your health from the effects of smoke

Listen carefully to public notices and warnings about the presence of smoke or the air quality.

Avoid outdoor activities when the air quality index is poor.

Close the windows and doors of your home, along with the air exchange system, when there is smoke outdoors.

Breathe into a damp cloth when in the presence of thick smoke, and be sure to keep the cloth in front of your mouth and nose in order to avoid inhaling smoke.

If, despite all the precautions taken, you do not feel well, call Info-Santé at 811.
For any other medical emergency, call 911.

Smoke is more likely to bother the following individuals:

  • young children
  • the elderly
  • individuals with respiratory problems (asthma, bronchitis, home-assisted ventilation, restricted breathing capacity, emphysema, etc.)
  • individuals with heart problems

To protect your pet from the detrimental effects of smoke, do not let your pet go outside.

Protect your property against the risk of fire

When the spread of fire is not putting your safety and that of your loved ones in jeopardy, protect your property by:

  • Secure the perimeter of your house by moving all combustible materials and equipment (e.g. construction wood, wooden patio furniture, propane tank) far from the house.
  • Remove dry branches, leaves and other vegetation and move them far from your home.
  • Using fire-resistant materials, temporarily block openings that could let material on fire enter your house (e.g. range hood and ventilation vents having defective dampers, openings near doors or windows).
  • Connect your garden hoses to the outside tap in case of need.
  • Work in collaboration with your neighbours to maximize everyone’s efforts.

For more information on how to protect your property or for advice tailored to your region, contact your fire safety service or the SOPFEU This hyperlink will open in a new window..

Evacuation

Leave your home if you are in danger or at the request of the authorities. If you don't know where to go, contact your municipality. For more details, consult the page Evacuation This hyperlink will open in a new window. in the event of a disaster.

Follow the instructions and recommendations for a safe evacuation. 

Close the doors and windows of your home and lock its doors before leaving.

If you have the time, and if possible:

  • abundantly water the ground around your house, as well as the roof.
  • Shut off the electrical supply.
  • Contact your natural gas distributor to shut off the natural gas. Note that your municipality’s fire department can also see to it that your natural gas supply is shut off in an emergency situation.

Before leaving, pack essential items for all members of your family:

  • Medications
  • Personal hygiene items
  • Extra clothes
  • Blankets
  • Money
  • Identification documents
  • Car and house keys
  • Milk, bottles and diapers for infants
  • Electronic devices and accessories for connecting them
  • Items for the wellbeing of family members with special needs 

Gather all of your family members and go to the location designated for in your evacuation plan.

Take your pets with you, if possible. However, do not jeopardize your safety if you are unable to find them or take them with you.

Advise family or friends, as well as municipal officials, of where you intend to take shelter.

If you go to a temporary housing centre set up by the authorities, where services will be offered to you, register with the staff on-site.

When evacuating, respect the signage in place and, where applicable, the safety perimeters established by the authorities.

Remember that designated, competent authorities actively monitor evacuated areas in order to ensure that the sites remain secure.

What to do after

You may return to your home when officials have given their permission and it is safe to do so. Return home during the day when it is easier to see problems and hazards. Visit the government’s reintegration This hyperlink will open in a new window. page for important advice and safety recommendations.

Walk around your house to identify any issues (e.g.  electrical lines on the ground, smell of gas, large pieces of debris, hot spots that could ignite) and exercise caution when entering your home.

Identify signs that could indicate structural issues as a result of water damage (e.g. weakened roof section, damaged framing, buckled wall, cracks in the ceilings, weakened floors, doors that no longer close). Call on a building expert if you have any doubts about the condition of your home in order to ensure the safety of its occupants and that of your entourage and preserve the longevity of your home.

Record details of any damage to your home by taking photos or videos. Notify your municipality, your insurer and the financial institution that granted you a mortgage loan, to declare the damage. Keep the receipts of all your cleaning-related expenses.

For your complaints, keep all receipts and proof of purchase of damaged goods.

If there is any important work to be done before you can return home, secure the premises to keep away looters and curious bystanders:

  • lock the doors
  • barricade the windows
  • cover damaged areas

Choose recognized specialized firms for evaluation, cleaning or disinfection services, or repair work following a disaster.

Pay attention to stress reactions after a disaster:

  • Anxiety
  • Apathy or loss of energy
  • Aggressiveness
  • Increased alcohol or drug use

Appropriate psychological guidance can help you cope with responsibilities stemming from the situation. Contact Info-Santé at 811 and select Info-Social to speak with a social worker. This confidential service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Water

Verify that your water is safe to drink. In case of doubt with respect to water colour, odour or taste, contact municipal officials before drinking it.

You must assume that the water from a personal well is undrinkable. Disinfect your personal well This hyperlink will open in a new window. (French only) and have the water analyzed This hyperlink will open in a new window. (French only) before drinking it.

Food and medications

If the power has been off more than six hours, check the quality of food before eating it. Throw out any food with signs of deterioration. Consult Panne de courant et alimentation - quoi garder et quoi jeter This hyperlink will open in a new window. (French only) for information on deciding what to keep and what to throw out from your refrigerator and your freezer.

Don’t take medications left in your refrigerator for more than six hours. Take them back to your pharmacy.

Cleaning your home

A number of actions need to be taken to effectively and safely clean your home after significant smoke damage:

  • To eliminate odours, ventilate rooms adequately for a number of hours by opening windows and setting up portable fans to help “push” odours outside.
  • While wearing gloves, remove dust and soot with soap and water.
  • Do not use a broom or a vacuum because they tend to displace dust, rather than remove it.
  • Thoroughly clean children’s toys and items that you use often.
  • Wash all clothing that smells of smoke.
  • Dispose of soaking wet materials that were used to extinguish the fire (such as plasterboard and glass wool insulation) and check that the wood’s moisture content is below 15%. Ventilate the space, paying particular attention to the risk of mould development.  
  • If necessary, clean the ventilation systems and their components. Replace filters, as needed, and turn ventilation systems back on.
  • Consult a garment and textile cleaning specialist to arrange for the cleaning of dirty or smoke-damaged fabric items (e.g. sofas and mattresses) or toys and stuffed animals.

Protect yourself during clean-up work

Avoid any risk of poisoning due to carbon monoxide (a colourless, odourless, tasteless gas that can be fatal):

  • Never use equipment such as pumps or generators powered by gas, gasoline, etc., inside buildings or near doors or windows.
  • Never obstruct an appliance’s air intake or exhaust system.
  • During clean-up, check air quality regularly using a carbon monoxide detector designed for industrial use, or wear a personal detector with an audio or visual alarm.
  • Get out immediately dial 911 for assistance and leave the door open to ventilate the premises thoroughly if your carbon monoxide detector goes off, or if you or someone else in your household is experiencing symptoms such as:
    • headache
    • nausea
    • fatigue
    • vomiting
    • dizziness
    • weakness

If in doubt, call Info-Santé at 811. In the event of a serious problem or urgent need, call 911 or go to your hospital emergency.

Cleaning your yard

Attention! Never approach a downed power line. Call 911 immediately. When a line touches the ground, the risk of live wire and nearby ground is high.

Carefully remove all debris from your yard.

If you spot a telecommunication company cable or wire on the ground, contact the company.

Ask your municipality about permits required before proceeding with any backfilling, excavation or work to stabilize a riverbank.

Manage your residual materials This hyperlink will open in a new window. in accordance with standards in effect.