Human error causes most fires. You are primarily responsible for fire prevention in the home. Taking the right steps can save lives.
What to do before
The flames and smoke from a fire could trap you in only three minutes.
To be ready to act quickly, immediately take these two steps:
- install at least one smoke detector per storey (in french only), including the basement, and regularly check their operation, at least twice a year when the time changes.
- Prepare your emergency evacuation plan (in french only) and carry out an evacuation drill.
Consult our fire prevention tips (in french only) to ensure your family’s day-to-day protection.
What to do during
Immediately leave the house following your evacuation plan. If possible, close the doors behind you.
If a door or doorknob is hot, block the bottom of the door with a sheet or towel and find another exit such as a window.
Crawl on your hands and knees under the smoke.
Go to the assembly point.
Never go back inside, even to save a person or an animal or to recover personal effects.
What to do after
Your fire safety service will give you the property restoration document. It is important to abide by the elements included in it. You can then return to the house.
Do so during the day since it will be easier to observe problems and risks. Consult the Returning to the home document to obtain all safety advice and recommendations.
Walk around your house to locate problems such as electrical wires on the ground, gas odours, significant debris, or hot points that may ignite.
Locate potential structural problems such as a weakened roof, melted exterior facing, damaged framework, sloping walls, cracked ceilings, sagging floors, and doors that do not close. When in doubt, consult a building expert to ensure your safety.
Make an inventory of damage supported by photographs or videos. Notify your municipality, insurer, and the financial establishment that granted you a mortgage loan. To make claims, keep all receipts and proofs of purchase concerning damaged property.
If significant work must be carried out before you return to the house, make the site secure to keep away looters and bystanders by:
- locking the doors;
- barricading the windows;
- covering damaged parts.
Choose specialized companies recognized for their appraisal, cleaning, or disinfecting services or for repair work. Keep all receipts pertaining to such expenses.
Pay attention to your reactions and those of your loved ones after experiencing a disaster:
- Anxiety, distress or frequent crying
- Apathy or loss of energy
- Difficulty concentrating or confusion
- Increased alcohol or drug use
Psychosocial support is available to you. Psychosocial intervention professionals are available to support, advise and direct you to resources tailored to your needs or those of your loved ones. Call Info-Social, at 811, and select option 2 to speak with a professional. This service is free and confidential, and it is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
For more information on the possible reactions after a disaster and on ways to help you, see the Getting better following a disaster page.
Verify that your water is fit for human consumption. In case of doubt concerning its colour, smell, or taste, contact municipal authorities before consuming it.
If your water comes from an individual well, have the well water analyzed (in french only) by an accredited laboratory if you note sudden changes in its taste, smell, or appearance.
Food and medicines
Following a power outage of more than six hours, verify the quality of your food before consuming it. Discard any food that shows signs of deterioration. Consult the Keep or discard food after a power outage or flooding (in french only), which will enable you to sort out the food in your refrigerator and freezer.
Do not consume medicines that have remained for more than six hours in your refrigerator. Return them to the drugstore.
Cleaning the house
You must take steps to effectively clean your home following the presence of significant smoke.
- Properly ventilate the rooms for several hours to eliminate odours by opening the windows and using portable fans to circulate the air.
- Wear gloves and use soap and water to remove dust and soot.
- Do not use a broom or a vacuum cleaner since they will stir up more dust than they will remove.
- Thoroughly clean children’s toys and frequently used items.
- Wash all clothing that smells.
- Discard water-soaked materials used to extinguish the fire such as gypsum and glass wool and verify that wood has a degree of humidity under 15%. Ventilate and pay close attention to the risk of mould.
- If need be, clean ventilation systems and their components. Where appropriate, replace filters and turn back on the ventilation systems.
- Consult a specialist in clothing and textile cleaning to have cleaned items made of fabric such as couches and mattresses, and toys and stuffed toys that are very dirty or give off strong odours.
Protect your health and safety during cleaning work.
Avoid the risk of poisoning by carbon monoxide, a toxic, colourless, odourless gas that can cause death.
- Never use devices such as pumps and generators that are powered by natural gas, gasoline, propane, or other fuels inside buildings or near doors or windows. Never obstruct the air inlets or outlets of such equipment.
- Use a battery-powered carbon monoxide detector to regularly monitor ambient air quality or carry an individual detector equipped with an audible and visual alarm when carrying out hazardous work.
- Immediately go outside and call 911 if a carbon monoxide detector goes off inside the building or you or your loved ones display symptoms such as:
In case of doubt, contact Info-Santé at 811. In case of serious problems or urgent needs, call 911 or go to an emergency department.
Never approach an electric wire that has fallen to the ground. Contact Hydro-Québec. There is a high risk that a wire touching the ground and the surrounding area are live.
Cautiously remove debris on the lot.
If you see a wire or cable on the ground belonging to a telecommunications service, contact the supplier.
Before felling trees, contact your municipality to find out about the by-laws in force.
Manage your residual materials by complying with the prescribed municipal standards.
Last update: February 23, 2023