Fire safety at the cottage

Friends sitting around the camp fire roasting marshmallows

Are you heading to the cottage this summer? Keep fire safety in mind to ensure a worry-free getaway!


Vaughan Fire and Rescue Service is providing the following tips to help make sure you stay fire safe:


At the cottage

  • Test all smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms at least once a month.
  • In Ontario, a CO alarm is required in every residence with a fossil fuel-burning appliance, such as a gas furnace, propane barbecue, stove or dryer. Install a CO alarm near each sleeping area.
  • Ensure you have a backup CO alarm near the fossil fuel-burning appliance or furnace.
  • Develop and practise an emergency escape plan (PDF) – establishing all exits, including windows – with everyone staying at your cottage, so they know how to get out in case of a fire. 


Outdoor fireplaces, chimineas and fuel-burning appliances

  • Store combustible material and flammable liquids away from all fuel-burning appliances.
  • Maintain a minimum of three metres between the fireplace and combustible objects and surfaces, and use appropriate insulating material, such as a metal or stone fire pit pad, under the unit if used on a wooden deck. 
  • Remove debris from all chimneys and vents, and check the unit regularly for cracks or other physical deterioration.
  • Burn clean, dry firewood only and limit the amount of firewood burning to ensure the flames are confined to the unit and do not extend into the chimney. 


Constantly supervise the fire unit when in use and follow the manufacturer’s operating instructions. Keep a method of fire snuffing nearby (e.g., a fire extinguisher, pail of water, garden hose) in case required, and avoid using an outdoor fireplace on windy days. For more guidelines on backyard firepits and chimineas, visit



  • Only use barbecues outdoors. They produce CO – a colourless, practically odourless, tasteless gas that can be fatal in an enclosed space. 
  • Ensure all burner ports are free of rust, dirt or cobwebs. Use a pipe cleaner or wire to ensure they are clear of any obstructions before lighting them up.
  • Check hose and cylinder connections to make sure they are in good working condition. To look for leaks, brush a mixture of 50 per cent soap and 50 per cent water onto all hoses and connections – then, look for bubbles. Replace, repair or tighten any connections until the bubbles are gone. Never use a match or lighter to check for leaks.
  • Clean out grease traps and keep grill areas free of any debris.
  • Place your barbecue in a safe area away from combustible materials, buildings and fences. Radiant heat from a barbecue can damage siding on the exterior of a home or shed.
  • Always light the barbecue with the lid open. If the burner does not ignite, turn off the gas and wait five minutes. Keep the lid open, then try again.


When cooking with charcoal grills, only use charcoal briquettes (a compressed chunk of coal dust or charcoal) explicitly designed for that purpose. To ignite, sprinkle the briquettes with charcoal lighter fluid and allow it to soak in for approximately 10 minutes. Never add fluid after igniting the barbecue and never use gasoline to light a barbecue.


Propane barbecues

If your grill runs on propane, remember these tips:

  • Always carry and transport a propane cylinder in a car in an upright position with the safety valve on top. Ensure your vehicle’s windows are open while transporting.
  • Never leave a cylinder in a parked car with the windows up. Heat can build up quickly, which, in turn, can cause an explosion. 
  • Do not store propane inside a building, including a garage. Propane gas is heavier than air – if a cylinder leaks, the escaping gas will settle near the ground. A spark from the pilot light of your furnace, hot water heater or fireplace can cause ignition at any time.


For more fire prevention tips, visit


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