Fire Marshal warns Ontarians to never use microwave ovens to sterilize face masks
May 5, 2020 By FFIC Staff
May 5, 2020, Ontario – Ontario’s Fire Marshal is urging all Ontarians to follow the recommendations of medical and health professionals on how to use and clean personal protective equipment (PPE) and stresses that microwave ovens should never be used to sterilize a face mask.
“Heating a face mask in a microwave, in an effort to decontaminate it, is a potential fire risk and should never be done,” said Jon Pegg, Ontario Fire Marshal, in response to suggestions that microwaves can be used to sterilize masks for re-use.
Microwave ovens are not designed to heat cloth materials, so there is a risk of the mask overheating and catching fire. Many disposable masks also have a metal nose wire or staples holding the straps which can cause sparks or a fire if heated in a microwave.
The Fire Marshal is reminding everyone that fire safety is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic when so many families are staying at home and doing more cooking. Ontarians need to be especially vigilant about fire prevention as fire and smoke can travel so quickly that firefighters may not be able to rescue someone in time.
“There have been 51 fire fatalities between Jan. 1 and May 4, a 65 % increase over the same time period last year, with 17 Ontarians dying in fires this past March alone,” noted Pegg.
To reduce potential fire risks in your home:
- Always stay in the kitchen when you are cooking – unattended cooking is a leading cause of home fires
- Keep a close eye on anyone drinking alcohol while attempting to cook or smoke
- Encourage smokers to smoke outside the home and garage and thoroughly extinguish all smoking materials in water or sand
- Always blow out candles before leaving the room or going to bed
- Avoid overloading electrical outlets and running electrical cords under rugs or furniture which can damage the cords and cause a fire
- Ensure items that can burn are at least one metre away from space heaters
- Test your alarms by pressing the test button – only working smoke alarms give you the early warning required to safely escape a fire in your home
- Practice your home fire escape plan and make sure everyone knows two ways out of each room, if possible
- Keep all exits clear of obstructions that might hinder a safe escape.
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