In the wake of a fatal fire in Ottawa on Wednesday, the Bracebridge Fire Department wants to remind you that once you’ve escaped a burning building you should never re-enter it.

“Once out, stay out. Never re-enter a burning building.” says Bracebridge Fire Chief Murray Medley. Someone who had safely exited a burning home re-entered in an attempt to save a pet and died in the fire. Early detection and warning of a fire is critical and that’s why the law requires smoke alarms to be installed on every storey of your home and outside all sleeping areas. Larger homes may require additional smoke alarms and the fire service recommends you also have working smoke alarms in all bedrooms.

“Just as important as having working smoke alarms is making sure everyone in your home knows exactly what to do to escape BEFORE a fire occurs,” adds Medley. “This recent tragedy serves to emphasize the importance of staying outside once you have safely escaped a burning building.”

Simple steps for home fire escape planning include:

  • Everyone should know two ways out of each room, if possible.

  • All exits must be unobstructed and easy to use.

  • If someone in your home has a disability, develop an escape plan with your household that takes into account their unique needs. Determine who will be responsible for helping young children, older adults and anyone who needs assistance to escape.

  • Choose a meeting place outside, such as a tree or a lamp post, where everyone can be accounted for.

  • Call the fire department from outside the home, from a cell phone or neighbour’s home.

  • Practice your home fire escape plan.

  • Once out, stay out. Never re-enter a burning building.

For people who live in apartment buildings and need assistance to escape:

  • Make sure you tell the superintendent or landlord if you need assistance.

  • Make sure your name is added to the persons who require assistance list in the fire safety plan, so the fire department knows which apartment you are in.

  • Know the emergency procedures outlined in the building’s fire safety plan.

If a fire occurs in your home and you are unable to escape:

  • Close the door of the room you are in and cover vents and cracks around the door with cloth or tape to keep smoke out.

  • Call 9-1-1 or your fire department. Tell them where you are, then signal for help at the window with a light-coloured cloth or a flashlight.