Are you and your family prepared?

National Home Fire Safety Week
November 24 - 30, 2010

Fire may be at the top of a homeowner’s biggest worries list, and rightfully so. On average, fire kills eight people each week in Canada. Residential fires continue to account for the largest number of fires in Canada. In 2002, residential property fires resulted in 250 deaths, approximately 82 per cent of the nation’s fire fatalities.

November 24th to 30th is National Home Fire Safety Week and Canada Safety Council wants all Canadians to protect themselves against fire this holiday season. Being prepared is your best defence against a fire in your home. Make sure that you and your family have a fire escape plan, a working smoke alarm on every floor of the house, and know how to use your fire extinguisher.

Do you have a fire escape plan?

Every household in Canada should have an emergency plan in order to react quickly if a fire were to occur. Draw up a floor plan of your home showing all possible exits from each room. If possible, plan two exits: a main route and an alternate route from each room. Identify a safe place where everyone should meet. Practice the plan with your family and make sure every member knows what to do.

Do you know all you need to know about smoke alarms?

Install at least one smoke alarm outside each sleeping area, and on every level of your house. Make sure to change the batteries in all smoke alarms twice a year (for example, when you change your clocks in the fall and spring). Also, it is important to test and clean your smoke alarm on a regular basis. Test your smoke alarm monthly by pressing the test button and holding until the alarm sounds. While you don’t have to clean your smoke alarm as often as you test it, it is important to do so every six months. To clean, open the cover and gently vacuum the interior of it. Put the cover back and make sure the alarm is working. The lifespan of a typical smoke alarm is about 10 years, but some may last as little as five years, that is why it is so important to test it on a regular basis.

Do you know how to use your fire extinguisher?

Many people have a fire extinguisher, but they may not have the slightest idea when it comes to using one. Everyone should have at least one fire extinguisher at home, but it’s just as important to ensure you have the proper type of fire extinguisher. Fire protection experts recommend that you have three extinguishers in your home. One for the kitchen, one for the basement and one for the garage. If there’s a fire, get everyone outside and have someone call the fire department. Only then should you attempt to fight a small fire. If the fire becomes large, get out. Fire extinguishers are designed to put out small fires, not large ones.

The ABCD’s of fire extinguishers
Fire extinguishers are divided into four categories, A, B, C, or D, based on different types of fires. The following is a quick guide to help choose the appropriate extinguisher for the right type of fire.
Class A extinguishers are for ordinary combustibles materials such as paper, wood, drapes and upholstery.
Class B extinguishers are for flammable and combustible liquids such as fuel oil, gasoline, paint, grease in a frying pan, solvents and other flammable liquids.
Class C extinguishers are for electrical equipment such as appliances, wiring, overheated fuse boxes, conductors, and other electrical sources.
Class D extinguishers are for metals such as magnesium, potassium and sodium, and are commonly found in a chemical laboratory.

A multi-purpose dry chemical extinguisher labelled ABC puts out most types of fires: wood, paper, cloth, flammable liquids and electrical fires. If you plan on buying more than one, Fire Prevention Canada suggest purchasing a BC for the kitchen, an A for the living room and an ABC for the basement and garage.

Learn how to PASS
Before using your fire extinguisher, make sure to read the instructions. Although there are many different types of fire extinguishers, all of them operate in a similar manner.
Pull the pin. Some units require the releasing of a lock latch, pressing a puncture lever, inversion or other motion.
Aim the extinguisher nozzle (horn) at the base of the fire.
Squeeze or press the handle.
Sweep from side-to-side at the base of the fire and discharge the contents of the extinguisher.

Extinguishers should be installed near an escape route and be easily accessible in case of an emergency. They should be maintained on a regular basis, at least once a year. Ask the retailer how to have your extinguisher serviced and inspected.

Refill the extinguisher after ANY use. A partially used extinguisher might as well be empty. Also, ensure that your fire extinguisher is labelled by a nationally recognized testing laboratory.

Have a safe and happy fire-free holiday season!