It’s Fire Prevention Week! This year “Don’t Wait – Check the Date”:
- Smoke alarms should be replaced every 10 years
- Make sure you know how old all the smoke alarms are in your home
- To find out how old a smoke alarm is, look at the date of manufacture on the back of the alarm; the alarm should be replaced 10 years from that date
As part of your home fire safety plan, set up smoke alarms around your home, which will alert you and your family if smoke from a fire is present. The general rule of thumb is that there should be at least one smoke alarm for each level in your home, and where possible, smoke alarms should be installed inside and outside sleeping areas (such as in a hallway, the living room, and in the bedroom).
Smoke alarms should be tested monthly, batteries changed annually, and the entire unit replaced approximately every 10 years!
Do not disable your smoke alarm while you’re cooking – it can be easy to forget to turn it on again. Help seniors and those with special needs set up and check smoke alarms. People with hearing impairments may consider smoke alarms with vibrations or flashing lights.
As fires affect thousands of Canadians every year, it is imperative to educate families on prevention. Not only can fires devastate through severe burns, but they are also a deadly mixture of fumes and toxic gases. Basic fire safety begins at home, where a little bit of planning can go a long way towards protecting your loved ones and preventing damage to your property. Below are a few tips about fire prevention as well as what to do in case there is a fire.
Cooking is one of the leading causes of house fires, as well as injuries from fire. Adopting good habits in the kitchen is necessary for fire prevention:
- Avoid wearing loose-fitting clothing while cooking – sleeves can easily get caught on pot handles.
- Keep flammable objects such as paper towels, pot holders, and tea cloths at a safe distance from the stove and oven. As a rule of thumb, it does not belong on the stovetop if it is not a pot or pan.
- Regularly clean the burners and stovetop – built-up grease can easily catch fire.
Aside from being bad for your health, smoking is also a significant fire hazard. Smoking-related fires often occur in the home through careless smoking: lit cigarettes left near combustible materials, a smoker falling asleep with a cigarette in hand, or improperly extinguished cigarette butts. To prevent this from happening to you:
- Smoke outside!
- Stub out used cigarette butts in a can filled with sand. If possible, douse cigarettes and ashes with water before discarding
- Never smoke in a home where oxygen is used. Oxygen is an explosive substance, and can make fires burn faster and hotter
3. Electrical and Appliance Safety
Home appliances are another potential source of house fires, particularly old and damaged goods. Some simple steps to avoid electrical fires include:
- Check appliances (like hair dryers and lamps) frequently for worn or frayed cords. Damaged cords should be replaced or discarded
- Avoid counterfeit electrical products that may malfunction or may not be able to withstand power demands. These products can easily overheat or short circuit (where an electrical current follows an unintended path)
- Don’t overload extension cords and wall sockets
Fireplaces and woodstoves require extra attention:
- Inspect and clean on a regular basis
- Make sure the fire is out completely before leaving the house or going to bed
- Never leave children unattended near operating fireplaces and woodstoves, even for a short time
Candles, when used carefully, help to create a cozy and welcoming environment but just keep the following tips in mind the next time you light one:
- Keep flammable items away from a lit candle
- A burning candle should be stored on a stable surface
- Never leave a lit candle unattended, and children should not be left alone with a burning candle
- For more fire prevention tips, please visit our website.
Create a Fire Escape Plan
If and when you’re faced with a fire, every second counts. Having a fire escape plan will enable you and your family to get out of your home quickly and safely. This plan should be practiced and reviewed twice a year, and should be adapted to accommodate health and personal changes. To learn more about how to create a fire escape plan for you and your family, click here.
Home Fire Safety: During a Fire
- Get out as quickly as you can!Avoid inhaling particles by covering your nose and mouth with a damp cloth
- Get low and crawl your way to your planned escape exit – heavy smoke, gases and heat tend to rise and will first collect along the ceiling
- Do not open doors right away! Feel the door and doorknob for heat. Keep the door closed if it’s hot, and go to your secondary escape exit
- If you’re able to open the door, proceed slowly and with caution
If your clothes or hair catch on fire, STOP, DROP and ROLL!
- STOP immediately
- DROP to the ground, using your hands to cover your face
- ROLL back and forth or over until the fire is out
- If you cannot STOP, DROP and ROLL, smother the flames with a towel or a blanket
With awareness and planning, home fires are largely preventable. It pays to learn home fire safety. To better your preparation, try taking a fire safety course!
Inhalation injuries happen when the casualty inhales hot steam or hot (superheated) air, smoke or poisonous chemicals, or carbon monoxide (the most common inhalation injury in a fire).
Inhalation injuries are the most common cause of death from a fire in a building. An inhalation injury is always considered a life-threatening breathing emergency. It can be many hours after inhaling the hot air or poisonous gas that breathing is seriously affected. For this reason, every casualty of an inhalation injury needs to be transported to medical help. Only a medical doctor can determine the extent of the injuries.
First aid for an inhalation injury
- Begin ESM – do a scene survey. Make sure you can give first aid without putting yourself in danger
- Do a primary survey. Give first aid for the ABC’s. Make sure the casualty has a supply of fresh air
- Make breathing easier for the casualty – place him in the semi-sitting position and loosen tight clothing at the neck, chest and waist
- Monitor breathing closely. If breathing stops, begin CPR starting with compressions
- Give ongoing casualty care until handover to medical help including first aid for shock
For more information about smoke alarms, visit the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management’s website at www.ontario.ca/firemarshal.
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