Arson prevention


Every year, deaths and injuries are caused by children playing with fire.

Children can become fascinated with fire and may link it to fun experiences like watching firework displays, blowing out candles on a cake and camping. Children who set fires usually do so out of curiosity or by accident. It is important to teach your children that fire is extremely dangerous, and that matches and lighters are not toys.

We offer help

If your child is intentionally setting fires or has repeatedly set fires, get help by contacting us.

The Waterloo regional fire departments offer support to families dealing with children who set fires. An interview will be conducted by trained personnel to determine the severity of the problem. There is a youth fire safety academy class available at no cost that provides insight into the dangers of fire play and fire safety education.

Check out these fire prevention tips to help keep your family, property and neighbours safe.

Prevention and fire safety tips

To get a better idea of how fire-proof your home is and for ideas on how you can make your home more safe, review the following check list  for your kitchen, cellar, attic, storage and work areas, bedroom and living room. 

  • Are the appliances in good repair?    

  • Are appliances approved by a testing laboratory? (e.g. UL ensures that small appliances are compliant with international regulations)

  • Are appliances used safely by:       

    • Unplugging them when not in use?    

    • Keeping them away from the sink and stove?    

    • Replacing or repairing frayed cords or exposed wires? 

Tip: Cords can be damaged by excess heat. Electrical appliances, and power cords can cause shock or electrocution if they get wet.

  • Is excess electrical cord rolled up to prevent an accident?     

  • Is the area above the stove NEVER used for storage?     

  • Are spray cans and flammable liquids kept away from the stove? 

  • Are wastebaskets and other burnable materials kept away from the stove? 

Tip: Open the kitchen cupboards and engage the people you live with in an evening of label reading. You may find cleaning fluids that are flammable. Move these and all flammable liquids to a metal cabinet in a safer place.  

  • Do the people making dinner avoid wearing loose-fitting clothing? 

Tip: A loose fitting sleeve or shirt tail can touch the heating element and burn.   

  • Does everyone know that they can use a pan lid or baking soda to stifle a pan fire? 

Cellar, attic, storage and work areas
  • Are newspaper and rubbish discarded? 

  • Are burnable materials stored away from the heat source and never under stairs? 

  • Is all gasoline stored outside the house? 

Tip: Gas vapours can travel and ignite if kept indoors.    

  • Are paints, solvents, turpentine, lighter fluid, rags or brushes soaked with any of the above stored in locked metal storage containers marked "flammable"? 
  • Are fuses or circuit breakers the right size?  
  • Has the furnace or heating system been cleaned this year?  
  • Are bedspreads and laundry kept away from radiators and electric heaters?   
  • Are windows easy to open?   
  • Do extension cords only hold one plug?   
  • Are cords used properly-not under rugs, not over doorways or hung over nails?   
  • If there is an exit from the bedroom that is used as a means of escape in an emergency, is the path to that exit clear?   
  • Is there no smoking in the bedroom?   

Tip: Many of the fires involving death or injury are located in the bedroom, so it's an important place to start your prevention campaign. 

 Living room
  • Are smokers wide awake and responsible for their smoking materials?    
  • Are smokers using proper ashtrays and not cups, cans, or lids?   
  • Are the ashtrays on tables and not on the arms of a chair or sofa?   

Tip: At the end of a day, ashtrays should be emptied into a metal can. That would provide time for ashes to burn out and the next day they can be safety discarded into a waste basket. 

  • Is the fireplace screened? Is it free of ashes?
  • If any exit is used as a means of escape during an emergency, are the exits clear of furniture and assorted belongings?   
  • Are the lamps free of burnable decorations?    
  • Are lamps placed a good distance from drapes?
  • Are drapes kept away from radiators?
  • If you use your fireplace or woodstove, is your chimney cleaned annually?   
  • Is there a fire extinguisher in the kitchen?    
  • Was the extinguisher inspected within the last year?   
  • Is the number of your fire department near every phone, along with the street address of the residence?   
  • Are electrical cords in good condition and used properly by:
    • Replacing any cords that are frayed and worn?
    • Placing cords and/or the flow of and not under rugs?
  • Be careful not to overload outlets. 

Tip: One plug to one socket. The use of extension cords is strongly discouraged. 

  • Are all the exits clear with no locking devices that may hamper a quick exit during an emergency?

Tip: Neatness helps. It's a good idea to do a large clean up several times a year with fire safety in mind. A fire outside can easily spread inside so make sure you clean outside, too.

For more information contact:

Kitchener Fire Prevention at: 519-741-2495, or e-mail

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