Cottage Safety

Cottagers need to ensure they have working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in compliance with provincial laws and municipal bylaws.

  • Replace any smoke alarms past their 10-year lifespan and CO alarms over seven years old.

Tips to help prevent cottage fires

Follow Ministry of Natural Resources FireSmart guidelines to create a zone of protection around your cottage:

  • Never leave any fire unattended.
  • Make sure you have working smoke alarms on every storey and outside sleeping areas. It’s the law.
  • Replace batteries in all smoke alarms when you open your cottage for the season.
  • Smoke alarms do not last forever. Replace any smoke alarms over 10 years old. Setup a regular routine to maintain your alarms following manufacturer guidelines.
  • Create and regularly practice a fire escape plan with the whole family.
  • Ensure family, guests and renters know the exact cottage address as well as the fire emergency number in your area.
  • 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.
  • Don’t stack wood along exterior walls. Store combustible materials like fuel and wood piles at least 10 metres away from the cottage.
  • Consider chipping, composting or taking your brush to a disposal site instead of burning. Check with your municipality before you burn leaves and debris. Outside of municipalities, use a burn barrel that meets the guidelines in the Forest Fires Prevention Act.
  • Whether cooking indoors or outside, stay close by and don’t leave cooking unattended.
  • Choose a safe day for a fire; do not burn debris or start a campfire when it’s windy or during a fire ban. Keep water handy to douse the flames, if needed, and to ensure your fire is completely out when you are finished.
  • 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 tragedies at the cottage:

  • Carbon monoxide alarms are mandatory in all homes and cottages as of January 1, 2014.
  • Replace any CO alarms over seven years old.  Some new CO devices sold in 2013 now last 10 years – CO alarms do not last forever!
  • Check local bylaws - for more requirements.
  • 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. Continuous display alarms that show a “zero” when CO is not present are a top consumer choice.
  • Know the warning signs – CO poisoning causes flu-like symptoms without the fever such as fatigue, headaches and nausea.
  • 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) poisoning.

Return to the Fire Safety and Guidelines page.