Some household products are potentially dangerous because they give off toxic fumes that can poison you, catch fire, or even explode. Learn how to use and store them safely.

Make sure you have enough smoke detectors in all the right places.

Keep a portable fire extinguisher on hand and learn how to use it.

Flammable and combustible products

Flammable products give off fumes that can be ignited, even when used or stored at ambient temperatures.

Examples of flammable products:

  • gasoline
  • acetone
  • alcohol
  • lighter fluid
  • hair spray
  • painting
  • pool maintenance products
  • naphtha
  • ethanol
  • fondue liquid
  • certain contact adhesives

Combustible products give off fumes that can ignite when they reach a temperature of 37.8°C or higher.

Examples of combustible products:

  • kerosene
  • heating oil
  • oil-based paint
  • diluents
  • lamp oil

Safe use

Before using a flammable or combustible product

Check the package for possible chemical reactions.

Keep away from sources of heat such as lighted cigarettes or sparking appliances.

Move outdoors or make sure the room is ventilated to prevent the build-up of flammable fumes.

Read the instructions and warnings on the product label.

Keep on hand a portable ABC fire extinguisher to put out a fire caused by one of these products. Never douse the blaze with water.

After using a flammable or combustible product

Dispose of any material soaked with the product (rag, paper towels, etc.) in a fireproof container.

Never pour the product into a toilet or sink. It can build up a static charge capable of creating a spark.

Never smoke or use a cordless or cellular phone when handling hazardous materials.

Do not puncture or cut the container, even if it is empty.

Recycle the container or throw it in the garbage. Never throw a hazardous product container into a fire.

If your clothes are soaked with a flammable product, hang them outside to remove the fumes. Hand wash them first before putting them in the washer and dry them outside.

Liquid storage

Follow the storage instructions on the product label.

Store flammable or combustible liquids away from heat sources.

Store them in a clean, dry place, such as a garage or shed, and avoid placing them near a window or door.

Make sure they are out of the reach of children.

Avoid storing them in the same area as safe household products.

Keep them in their original labeled container.

Store gasoline in a labeled, airtight container designed for that purpose.

Inspect containers regularly for leaks. If there is a leak, ventilate the area, and if the leakage is significant, notify your municipal fire department.

Follow the storage standards of the National Fire Code of Canada, 2010 This hyperlink will open in a new window.

  • in a dwelling: maximum of 30 litres of combustible and flammable liquids, including a maximum of 5 litres of flammable liquids (gasoline, alcohol, etc.).
  • in a garage or shed: maximum of 50 litres of combustible and flammable liquids, including a maximum of 30 litres of flammable liquids.