Many disposable masks have a metal nose wire or staples holding the straps which can cause sparks or a fire when heated. (Pixabay photo)

Don’t use microwave to sterilize COVID-19 masks: Ontario fire marshal

Jon Pegg says there have been 51 fire fatalities in Ontario between Jan. 1 and May 4

Ontario’s fire marshal says there’s been an increase in fire deaths this year as COVID-19 measures force many people to stay home and do more home cooking.

Jon Pegg says there have been 51 fire fatalities between Jan. 1 and May 4, a 65 per cent increase over the same time period last year. He says 17 Ontarians have died in fires this past March alone.

Fire marshal office spokesman Ryan Betts says it wasn’t clear how many deaths occurred in homes and how many were due to cooking but says unattended cooking is the leading cause of home fires.

He adds that “we do know more people are staying at home these days and therefore the potential is greater for things like cooking fires and smoking.”

The fire marshal is also warning people not to use a microwave to sterilize face masks or other personal protective equipment. Pegg says microwave ovens are not designed to heat cloth materials, so there is a risk of the mask overheating and catching fire.

Betts says he is not aware of any fires caused by microwaves and masks in Ontario, but says it has been an issue in the United States and United Kingdom.

Many disposable masks have a metal nose wire or staples holding the straps which can cause sparks or a fire when heated.

“Heating a face mask in a microwave, in an effort to decontaminate it, is a potential fire risk and should never be done,” Pegg said Tuesday in a release.

Betts says no heat source should be used to sterilize personal protective equipment, including ovens and radiators.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirusfirefighters

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Search continues for wolf, senior citizen being transferred to Vancouver

Frank Russ shows where the unprovoked wolf attacked his father

Sunken Gardens bloom from deeply seeded efforts

Garden club members are rooted in dedication

COVID-19 highlights lack of connectivity in First Nations communities

Many don’t have access required to utilize online platforms, says First Nations Technology Council

VIDEO: Injured bald eagle rescued in B.C. First Nations community

Bird suspected injured in fight, whisked off to Coquitlam rehab

Toronto Raptors’ Ujiri says conversations about racism can no longer be avoided

Thousands have protested Floyd’s death and repeated police killings of black men across the United States

B.C.’s Central Kootenay region declares state of emergency, issues evacuation orders

The evacuation alert covers all areas except the Cities of Castelgar and Nelson

Protesters prepare to rally against racism in front of Vancouver Art Gallery

Rally is in response to the deaths of black Americans and a Toronto woman

Protesters rally against anti-black, Indigenous racism in Toronto

Police estimated the crowd to be between 3,500 and 4,000 and said there was no violence

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

Feds earmark $1.5M to support recovery of B.C., Indigenous tourism

B.C. money will be split between Vancouver Island and Indigenous tourism

‘We’re sick of it’: Anger over police killings shatters U.S.

Tens of thousands marched to protest the death of George Floyd

Surrey mayor’s party under fire for ‘sickening’ tweet accusing northern B.C. RCMP of murder

Mayor Doug McCallum says tweet, Facebook post ‘sent out by unauthorized person’

Most Read