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

Study looks at feasibility of Vancouver Island abattoir

South Island Prosperity Partnership funds study looking at local meat processing

Bike lane closed, traffic impacted by landscaping in Metchosin

Construction begins May 25, to be complete by mid-July

Royal B.C. Museum reopens in phases, some galleries remain closed to start summer

Victoria museum and archives open first galleries June 19

Saanich farm stands can stay open

Council amending bylaw to allow for temporary use permits

B.C. records no new COVID-19 deaths for the first time in weeks

Good news comes despite 11 new test-positive cases in B.C. in the past 24 hours

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Tahsis opens its gates to visitors to save local economy

Seasonal local businesses that rely on tourism hope to survive despite drop in tourist numbers

BC Corrections to expand list of eligible offenders for early release during pandemic

Non-violent offenders are being considered for early release through risk assessment process

Fraser Valley driver featured on ‘Highway Thru Hell’ TV show dies

Monkhouse died Sunday night of a heartattack, Jamie Davis towing confirmed

Island city cancels plan for homeless camp; exploring alternative option

The plan heard strong objection from neighbouring residents and businesses

B.C. visitor centres get help with COVID-19 prevention measures

Destination B.C. gearing up for local, in-province tourism

36 soldiers test positive for COVID-19 after working in Ontario, Quebec care homes

Nearly 1,700 military members are working in long-term care homes overwhelmed by COVID-19

Most Read