Teaching parents about fire safety

National Home Fire Safety Week
November 24 - 30, 2008

Do your children know more about fire safety than you?

Every year dedicated fire and safety professionals tour schools and speak to thousands of children about the dangers of fire and how they can stay safe. But, despite years of teaching kids about smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, escape route planning and how to “stop, drop and roll” far too many preventable fires still claim lives. Fire departments respond to over 50,000 residential fires a year in Canada . On average, eight Canadians die from a fire every week.

So what happens to these fire safety messages after the kids come home from school? Are they tossed out like that uneaten apple in your son’s lunch bag?

November 24th – 30th is National Home Fire Safety Week. Why not take the time this week to talk to your family about fire safety – draw a map of your home and make sure you know your escape routes; check your smoke detectors and fire extinguisher, and, most importantly – do it with your family.

“Odds are an elementary aged child has seen and heard more about fire safety than their parents,” says Jack Smith, president of the Canada Safety Council. “This week is a great time for families to get together and learn from each other about how they can stay safe from fire.”

With the winter upon us now is an ideal time to inspect your home fire prevention equipment and refresh your escape plans. As the weather grows colder more Canadians will switch on furnaces and heaters, light fireplaces and candles and close the garage door against the elements.

“Parents and children need to learn from one another and work together,” adds Mr. Smith. “Making sure your home and your family are aware of the risks and prepared for can be critically important in helping them prevent and survive a fire at home.”

Here are some practical fire safety tips for each room in your home to share with you family:

Kitchen

  • Avoid loose long sleeves when cooking.
  • Check kettles and toasters for damaged electrical cords and thermostats.
  • Use appliances that have an automatic shut-off.
  • Keep a timer handy to remind you when the oven and burners should be switched off.
  • If you take medication that causes drowsiness, do not use cooking appliances.
  • Use a temperature-controlled electric skillet or deep-fryer for frying.
  • Never leave your cooking unattended.
  • Use appropriate cooking appliances and keep them clean.
  • Keep a pot cover nearby to “put a lid on it” in the event of a fire.

Living Room

  • Fireplace: always use a fire screen, ensuring it is the appropriate size for the fireplace opening.
  • Do not overload electrical outlets or use extension cords in the place of additional outlets.
  • Smokers should check furniture for fallen cigarettes or embers, which can smoulder undetected for several hours before bursting into flames.
  • Ensure careful use of smoking materials and extinguish in water before disposal.
  • Never leave cigarettes in an ashtray unattended.
  • Use ashtrays with a double rim and deep centre.
  • Keep matches, lighters and lit candles out of the reach of children.
  • Never leave lit candles unattended.

Bedroom

  • Install at least one smoke alarm outside each sleeping area. For improved safety, install a smoke alarm in every bedroom.
  • Check electrical appliances regularly: electric blankets, heating pads, curling irons, radios, televisions, irons.
  • Bedrooms should be non-smoking areas.

Basement and Attic

  • Remove all combustible and flammable materials from the basement and attic.
  • Store gasoline in well-ventilated areas.
  • Do not store propane indoors.
  • Use only approved containers to store and transport gasoline.
  • Have a thorough yearly maintenance check of the furnace carried out by a professional.
  • When replacing an old furnace, consult a professional to determine the most safe, economical and efficient system for your home.
  • Chimneys should be cleaned at least once a year.

Garage and Workshop

  • Flammable materials – thinners, gasoline, paints, and industrial cleaners – should be stored neatly in approved containers and away from possible ignitable sources.
  • Do not smoke, or leave matches or lighters in the garage or workshop.
  • Install and know how to properly use the appropriate fire extinguisher for the garage/workshop.
  • Keep the area clean. Remove garbage, paper products, oily rags and wood shavings regularly.