(October 7, 2022)– As Ontario homeowners and restaurant operators prepare to extend patio season this autumn, Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA) and safety-minded partners mark Fire Prevention Week (October 9 to15, 2022) by delivering patio heater maintenance guidelines to help keep outdoor gatherers safe from fires and carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.
Knowing how to properly use patio heaters and open-flame appliances – including fire pits, fireplaces and tabletop units – helps everyone safely enjoy outdoor dining and socializing. With the hope that multiple voices will bring greater impact to this message, TSSA, the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs (OAFC), Ontario Municipal Fire Prevention Officers Association (OMFPOA), Canadian Propane Association (CPA), and Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association (ORHMA) offer the following patio heater and open-flame appliance safety tips.
Tips for the Safe Use of Patio Heaters
Ensure equipment is safety certified –Make sure outdoor heating devices are certified by the CSA, ULC, or another recognized certification body. Alist of approved certification markscan be found on the TSSA website.
Avoid the dangers of fire and CO poisoning – Never use outdoor heating devices indoors or in an enclosed area. If patio heaters are used in a shelter, be conscious of fire hazards and risks of CO build up.
Recognize the symptoms of CO poisoning – Teach staff and family members to recognize the symptoms of CO poisoning (nausea, dizziness, headache).
Avoid fire hazards – Be sure to adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions for required clearances from combustible materials such as umbrellas, awnings, walls, tablecloths, paper products, decorations, etc. Don’t forget to locate and identify easily accessible fire extinguishers in the patio area.
Position with care – Always place patio heaters on a stable surface. Make sure patio heaters do not obstruct doors, fire exits or firefighting equipment and are properly distanced from building air intakes.
Operate safely – Ensure anyone operating a patio heater understands how to disconnect and install propane cylinders, including how to check for leaks. See the Patio Heater Safety Guidelines for instructions.
Keep an eye out – Never leave patio heaters unattended and pay particular attention when children or intoxicated adults are in the vicinity.
Store propane cylinders safely – Never store propane cylinders indoors, in a garage, close to operational heaters, or near smoking areas. Propane cylinders must be stored upright, outdoors, in an area protected against tampering, unauthorized movement, dropping, or impacts that could result in a leak or a fire.
Request a locate before starting any digging project
Many people might not be aware of the risk of hitting dangerous underground infrastructure when doing projects that involve digging. For example, imagine that this summer you decide to upgrade your outdoor space. Maybe you want to install a pool to cool off during those scorching summer days, dig a fence, plant a tree, create a vegetable garden, or dig a flower bed. Never assume it is safe to dig! There are numerous underground hazards that could cause serious injuries. When you or your contractor dig the ground, no matter how small or big, you might unintentionally hit gas, electric, or other high-pressure pipes and lines and that could have fatal consequences.
Nicking a gas line could lead to leaks, fire, or explosions.
Damaging electrical cables could shock or electrocute you.
Hitting water or sewer lines could cause flying debris, floods, contamination, and environmental hazards.
Cutting telecommunications cables could disrupt internet or cable services and your ability to call 911 in an emergency.
Keep your family, property, and community safe. Always request a locate before starting any digging project. If you hired a contractor, make sure they request a locate at least 5 business days before the start of your project. It is as easy as a click, and it is completely free! You can request a locate online at www.OntarioOneCall.ca The new web portal allows you to do it easily and efficiently. You will be asked when and where you would like to dig, what your project is and what tools you will be using. Once the request is submitted, Ontario One Call will notify utilities that own buried infrastructure in the area you indicated. Each utility will come to mark the area. Requesting a locate before digging is the law so never dig without a locat!
Sewer Safety Inspections
Another safety precaution that not many people are aware of is Sewer Safety Inspections. They can save lives! If your sewer is backed up, call Ontario One Call at 1-800-400-2255 to request an inspection BEFORE you or your plumber try to clear the pipe. This is because there might be a gas line intersecting the sewer pipe that can burst during the attempt to clear. This situation is also known as a cross bore. While the intersection of two lines is generally safe, it may become dangerous when there are mechanical tools inserted in the sewer pipe to clear it. It is always the safest option to call Ontario One Call and have a free sewer inspection done when you experience a sewer backup. Sewer Safety Inspections are handled like an emergency, and representatives from the gas utility arrive within a few hours. Protecting your family, property and community is as easy as contacting Ontario One Call to request a locate or a sewer inspection. Remember, it’s easy and it’s free!
In 2021 the City of Toronto Council adopted itsExisting Building Strategy, creating actions to transform and retrofit all buildings across the city by 2040 or sooner. The strategy includes plans for new performance targets limiting building emissions and creating pathways for buildings to achieve the TransformTO goal of net-zero emissions by 2040.
Leading building owners are encouraged to take proactive action to improve energy and avoid the challenges from future energy performance.
The City of Toronto has also launched new building owner support programs including low interest financing & technical expertise to maximize carbon reduction and community to ensure the success of the Existing Building Strategy.
Building Owners & Contractors with identified projects are invited to access theCity's Energy Retrofit Loan(ERL) program to support up to 100% of the energy efficiency retrofit costs.
Late in May, Enbridge Gas Inc. (Enbridge) announced its intention to wind down its open bill program, effective December 31, 2023. The company declared that the long-standing service is “no longer consistent with the utility’s strategic direction.”
Along with affected companies who have been using the program over the past years (about 30 of the 97 billers are HRAI members), HRAI has been participating in Enbridge’s consultations on the matter. During the three consultation sessions held so far, Enbridge has made a number of concessions to its original plan, in efforts to make the transition process as smooth as possible for billers and their customers. For example, initially the utility set a date of July 2022 as a deadline for adding new customers. At the urging of billers, Enbridge extended the deadline to the end to November, 2023.
All of the companies that HRAI has connected with on this matter have agreed that clear, effective and consistent customer communication will be key to a smooth transition and that Enbridge should be the lead on messaging, if only to support what customers would be hearing directly from billers. Enbridge has agreed to create special messaging on its website and committed to an ongoing process that would over- rather than under-communicate the key messages. It seems that most billers are satisfied with this approach but key details of the plan remain to be seen.
The only remaining concern of note appears to be around transfers of certain types of customer data. Enbridge indicated it has legal concerns about transferring certain types of customer data (e.g. PAP) over to billers and, even if customer permissions were obtained, the utility might still have concerns about doing so. This issue appears to affect some billers more than others and will probably remain a point of discussion as the wind-down proceeds. While the official consultation period has ended, Enbridge has remained open to inputs from affected billers and stakeholders.
On Friday, June 17, the Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion and Minister responsible for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), announced the launch of the first phase of the new Canada Greener Homes Loan for homeowners, which will provide interest-free loans of up to $40,000 per household.
The first phase, starting on June 17, 2022, will be open to eligible homeowners who are applying or have an open application (pre-retrofit stage) to the Canada Greener Homes Grant. The second phase, starting in early September 2022, will expand the eligibility to homeowners who have closed their application (those who have requested their post-retrofit evaluation or grant), but still have remaining eligible retrofits they are interested in pursuing, that have not yet commenced.
Budget 2021 provided $4.4 billion for a new loan program to help homeowners and affordable housing providers complete deep home retrofits.
The Canada Greener Homes Loan is an inclusive program designed to help up to 175,000 eligible homeowners undertake deeper, more costly retrofits that will have a significant impact in reducing a home’s environmental footprint, energy bills, and in improving home resiliency.
The Canada Greener Homes Loan is part of the Canada Greener Homes Initiatives. The program builds on the Canada Greener Homes Grant offered by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) in helping Canadian Homeowners across the country improve the energy efficiency of their home. The Canada Greener Homes initiatives helps eligible homeowners make their homes more comfortable and affordable to maintain while supporting Canada’s environmental objectives, climate change plans and targets. These retrofits will also help stimulate the economy by creating good middle-class jobs in communities across the country.
For more information on this program, including helpful Q&As, click on the links below: