By Fire Chief Ted Dillon
Everyday of our lives we make use of fire/heat, directly or indirectly, in one form or another. Whether it is cooking on the stove/BBQ/microwave, furnace, driving our vehicle, candles, fireplaces/wood-burning stoves, electric heaters, or smoking, the potential for something to happen is present. On average 5,400 fires are reported to the Alberta Emergency Management Agency’s Fire Commissioner’s office each year. Homes account for 28 per cent of all fires and 60 per cent of all fire deaths and injuries.
Whenever the sirens of a fire truck are heard, we experience a moment of concern for the safety of the public and emergency responders. Over the years the number of fires and the destruction they bring to life and property have been reduced. However, we still need to be vigilant about fire prevention and safety especially in our homes where most fire deaths occur.
There are some simple actions that all of us can do to help prevent devastating fires and burns:
• Test the water before putting a child in a bath.
• Wear short or close-fitting sleeves when cooking on the stovetop.
• Extinguish candles before going to bed or leave the house.
• Keep portable heaters away from bedding or curtains.
• Have working smoke alarms and a proper escape plan.
• Learn where fire hazards lurk in your home.
• Find out how you can prevent these fire hazards from getting out of control.
Research shows toxic smoke from burning synthetic materials found in drapes, carpets and furniture in modern homes can build up to deadly levels in as little as three minutes. Yet only a few realize that it may take seven or more minutes for the fire service to respond. Preventing fires in and around your home is more critical than ever before.
Also, with winter just around the corner and the increased use of furnaces, fireplaces, wood burning stoves, water heaters, and vehicle idling, comes the potential for carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is the invisible killer produced by burning fuels. Take the time to install a carbon monoxide detector in the hallway near the bedrooms for each separate sleeping area to help keep your family safe.
Taking the time now to make small changes in our routines and actions will have a positive impact on your safety. Practising fire safety will protect your family, friends and neighbours. Together we can reduce the number of fires and fire-related tragedies.
To learn more about home fire safety, contact our office, visit Ponoka’s website at www.ponoka.org or visit the Alberta Emergency Management Agency’s new interactive website at www.3minutedrill.alberta.ca