Common sense can sometimes go out the window. Ontarians are now actually having to be warned to stop microwaving face masks and other personal protective equipment by the province's Fire Marshal Jon Pegg. There have been reports of an increase in fire-related fatalities since the beginning of this year and Pegg strongly advises against heating up your face masks to sanitize them.

In a news release on Tuesday, May 5, Pegg asks Ontarians to properly follow the thorough recommendations of medical and health professionals as to how to properly use and disinfect their PPE.

But, he stresses, microwaving them in a misguided attempt to ensure they are properly decontaminated is not the answer. 

"Heating a face mask in a microwave, in an effort to decontaminate it, is a potential fire risk and should never be done," said Pegg in the statement.

For those who need a reminder, microwaves are not meant to heat up your clothes or similar materials due to the risk of, yes, catching on fire. 

Even so, disposable face masks have metal nose wires or staples holding the straps together. And, of course, metal and microwaves do not mix, so the masks can actually cause sparks and potential fires, according to the statement.

"There have been 51 fire fatalities between Jan. 1 and May 4, a 65% increase over the same time period last year, with 17 Ontarians dying in fires this past March alone," said Pegg.

However, according to CTV News Toronto, Pegg's office could not officially confirm that the recent upswing in fires is due to COVID-19.

However, they did say that more information could become available once cities report their data.

"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," reads part of the statement.

"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," it continues.

The country is fearing a potential shortage if cases increase, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has already issued one Ontario manufacture to produce 10 million face shields by August.

Ontario students are also doing their part by using 3D printing technology to create face shields.

But still, photos and reports of PPE being dumped on streets continue across the province.

*This cover image has been used for illustrative purposes only.

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