Earlier we talked about having a plan of emergency escape routes for your home – hope you did one because today we’re going to carry on the emergency preparedness theme by improving on the plan and discussing fire safety and fire safety training.

Fire Safety for My Home?

fire - onlookers

fire – onlookers (Photo credit: Daveybot)

Yes, your home. There are over 50,000 home fires in Canada every year to which firefighters are called. Put that into your calculator and it comes out to approx. one fire every ten minutes. Are you ready to deal with one?

When do Fires Happen

When you aren’t looking! (because otherwise you’d deal with it before it became a problem). Most fatal fires start at nighttime. Don’t assume you’ll be woken by the smoke – you may not be able to smell it and the lack of oxygen may make you even more sleepy. Fires also can be due to unattended candles, unattended BBQs (or coals that haven’t been properly extinguished) etc.

Where do Fires Happen

The most dangerous place is your kitchen. You have a whole bunch of grease and oils ready to catch, as well are plenty of heat sources. At this time of year, you may also be getting your BBQ out for its first run after the winter, sorting out camp stoves, etc.

Fire Safety Tips

Smoke detector

Smoke detector (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • Get, install and maintain smoke detectors. At least one on each level of the house. Site them appropriately (near the kitchen door would be a good start). Make sure they are tested regularly and batteries are changed every 6 months or as needed. Replace them every ten years.
  • One survey suggested at a quarter of Canadians had either taken the batteries out to silence the alarm, or to use for other things like kids toys. Really? Batteries are like $5 or something. Is your life not even worth $5? Don’t do this!!
  • Keep your chimney swept regularly, keep the fire place (relatively) clean and free from debris, use appropriate screens, don’t store your fuel where a stray spark can catch it.
  • Keep your oven clean, and combustibles (like dishcloths & tea towels) away from it. If there is an oven fire, turn off the gas/electrical supply and keep the door shut. No oxygen will quickly mean no fire.
  • If a pot on the stove catches fire, (safely) put a lid over the pot, it will smother the fire.
  • Never, ever put water onto a fire involving grease, oil or any kind of fat. It will almost certainly explode – which ii going to be painful for you! Use appropriate fire extinguishers. (See the training section if you’re unsure or if this came as a surprise to you!)

How to Plan for Fire Safety

You should already have your emergency escape plan with two exits from every room. You will also have made sure the exits are clear and usable, right? If not, time to do it.
To the plan you already have, you can now add an outside meeting place – somewhere away from the house, but close enough for everyone to get to. Make sure everyone in the house knows where it is and can get to it.
Look at the plan and try to predict the main areas of danger (hint, we’ve already said it may be your kitchen) based on the things you have in your house – you know where your fires & BBQs & fuels & electricals are better than we do! Once you’ve identified the danger spots, make sure there are smoke detectors nearby each one.
If it’s appropriate, consider where you might put home fire-extinguishers or fire blankets. Once done, identify these spots on your plan.

Fire Safety Training

Consider taking a fire safety course. You’ll learn about how fires start and continue to burn as well as how to put them out. Find out about different types of extinguisher as well as what to do with them (and what not to do). It’s a small investment to save lives.
If the worst happens, make sure you have taken a first aid course, know how to deal with burns and are ready to do CPR if smoke inhalation causes serious problems.