By MorinvilleNews.com Staff
Morinville – Approximately eight Canadians are killed each week by fires, most of which were caused by careless behaviour and therefore preventable. Locally, the Morinville Fire Department has responded to 72 calls in town so far this year, 30 of which have been fire alarm calls.
But while the alarm at the Morinville Fire Department sets career and volunteer firefighters in motion to save lives and property, a simple battery-operated alarm can be the alarm that sets home owners in motion to save their own lives before the firefighters get there.
Fire Prevention Canada is focusing its attention on smoke alarms during this year’s Fire Prevention Week (Oct. 3 – 9) and is using the theme: Smoke Alarms: A sound you can live with!
“This year’s theme underscores the importance of making Canadians aware of the simple preventative measures they can take to prevent disaster from occurring to them,” said Morinville Fire Chief Ron Cust, noting that the statistics show most fires to be caused by careless behaviour. “An ounce of prevention in this case will save lives, homes and everything that we hold dear.”
For Chief Cust and his counterparts across the county and across the country, smoke alarms are the first line of defense against a deadly fire. The sound of a smoke alarm is a warning to leave the building.
Fire Prevention Canada’s 2009 campaign cited research from a 2005 study that indicated that over the past three decades the amount of safe escape time was consistently shorter while fire growth rates were faster. The study presented the argument that the increase in synthetic materials found in homes today contributed to this change. The study concluded that because fires could be more aggressive, the time needed to escape home fires has been reduced from approximately 17 minutes in the 1970s to as little as three minutes today.
With so little time, firefighters emphasize the importance of not only ensuring smoke alarms are present outside sleeping areas, but that routine maintenance is performed to keep them in working order.
Cust said it is important for residents to test their smoke alarms monthly and to clean them every six months. Batteries should be replaced yearly and the smoke alarms every 10 years.
While staying on top of smoke alarms is a good way to ensure they will work when needed, the Morinville Fire Department also has a number of tips for helping to ensure fires don’t start to begin with.
- Ensure your fireplace chimney is clean of creosote by having it cleaned once a year and have a glass or metal screen of the appropriate size covering the fireplace opening.
- Use care and precautions when burning candles, never leaving lit candles unattended.
- Never use your oven to heat your home, as not only is it a fire hazard, it can be a source of toxic fumes.
- Use appliances that have an automatic shut-off. If using a space heater, ensure it has an emergency shut-off in case it tips over.
- Have a thorough, yearly maintenance check of your furnace carried out by a professional.
- Install a carbon monoxide detector in a location where you will be able to hear it, should it go off. Test your detector every week.
- Clean your dryer lint filter after each load and clean the dryer vent and exhaust duct periodically.
- Install and know how to properly use the appropriate fire extinguisher near an escape route and away from potential fire hazards. Have your extinguisher serviced and inspected yearly and recharged after ANY use.
- Plan and practice a fire escape route for your family including where a designated meeting place would be.