What you need to know about fire prevention at your cottage

The August long weekend is finally upon us, and with the glorious extra day of rest and relaxation – Canadians from coast to coast are ready to soak up some sun in celebration. There might not be a better feeling than relaxing by a bonfire at the cottage while watching the stars take the sky.

We sometimes take for granted the minor details that go into hosting a safe bonfire – and how to avoid any carbon monoxide problems at the cottage.

  • Don’t stack wood along exterior walls! Store combustible materials like fuel and wood piles at least 10 metres away from the cottage.
  • Keep your roof and rain gutters free of debris and overhanging vegetation that could spread fire.
  • Use an approved spark arrestor on your chimney or stove pipe. Enclose all open spaces where fuel can accumulate i.e. under decks.
  • If renovating, consider replacing flammable roofing, siding, and foundation enclosures with fire resistant materials.
  • Always have fire suppression tools available i.e. shovel, rake or garden hose.
  • Choose a safe day for a fire; do not burn debris or start a campfire when it’s windy or during a fire ban.
  • Never leave any fire unattended. Keep water handy to douse the flames, if needed, and to ensure your fire is completely out when you are finished.
  • Whether cooking indoors or outside, stay close by and don’t leave cooking unattended.
  • Extinguish cigarette butts by dousing them with water or crushing them thoroughly in bare mineral soil or on bare rock.

Tips to Avoid Carbon Monoxide Problems at the Cottage

  • If your cottage has any fuel-fired devices such as gas, propane or wood heating systems and appliances, or has an attached carport, garage or a boat house with living quarters above, you are vulnerable to carbon monoxide (CO).
  • Carbon Monoxide is known as the silent killer because you can’t see, smell or taste it. The only way to detect it is to have at least one CSA-approved CO alarm installed. 
  • Check local bylaws – many cottage country municipalities now make mandatory CO alarms for homes and cottages.

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