Don't microwave your mask. Please.

(AP Photo/Javier Galeano)

Have you heard the one about throwing your mask into the microwave, before you use it again?

Don't.

That's the message from the Ontario Fire Marshal, who warned people not to mircrowave their masks, because of the risk of fire.

“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.

While there have been no issues in Ontario, the OFM says there have been several cases of fires in the US and in the UK.

The issue is that microwaves aren't designed to heat cloth materials, which could overheat and catch fire. Adding to the problem is that many masks come with a metal nose wire or staples, which can lead to an arc, and result in a fire.

But there's also the general message about fire safety, especially with so many people working from home and cooking and baking more.

“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.”

Between Jan. 1 and May 4, Pegg said there have been 51 fire fatalities in Ontario, which represents a 65 per cent increase over the same time last year.

Pegg said 17 Ontarians died in fires in this past March alone.

“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.”

As far as fire safety tips go, the Fire Marshal says you should always keep in mind:

- 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.