Message from the fire chief

Fire Prevention Week 2008 takes place October 5-11 and this year’s theme – It’s Fire Prevention Week: Prevent Home Fires! On average 5,400 fires are reported to the Alberta Fire Commissioner resulting on average 31 deaths, 280 injuries, and $300 million in direct property loss – Ponoka is not without its losses.

Ted Dillon

Ponoka Fire Department:

Fire Prevention Week 2008 takes place October 5-11 and this year’s theme – It’s Fire Prevention Week: Prevent Home Fires! On average 5,400 fires are reported to the Alberta Fire Commissioner resulting on average 31 deaths, 280 injuries, and $300 million in direct property loss – Ponoka is not without its losses. Homes account for 28 percent of all fires, 61 percent of all fire deaths, 58 per cent of all fire injuries and 31 percent of all property losses due to fire in Alberta. Your home should be a safe haven for you and your family. But is it? Do you regularly check for home fire hazards and do you know how to prevent fire, and what to do if fire does occur? If not, your home may not be the safe haven you have assumed. Cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires and home fire injuries in Alberta. Approximately 35 per cent of cooking fires involved overheated cooking oil igniting in a pot or pan while frying.

Smoking-related fires are the second most common type of home fire and account for the highest number of fire deaths. Other primary sources of home fires are heating, electrical and arson fires. Fire Prevention Week also provides the ideal opportunity to focus on other fire safety measures in your home, starting with your smoke alarm and home escape plan. Smoke alarms play a critical role in alerting family members in the early stages of a fire with home escape plans helping to lessen panic and get everyone out safely in the critical two minutes. By learning to prevent fire and knowing what action to take should a fire break out, you can keep your family and loved ones safe from fire.

Kitchen – Cooking is the number-one cause of home fires. The best way to prevent a cooking fire is to stay in the kitchen and pay close attention when using the stovetop. In addition, keep items that can catch fire well away from the stove top. If you experience a small pan fire, put on an oven mitt and carefully slide a tight-fitting lid over the pan. This cuts the oxygen and allows the fire to die down. Leave the pan covered and in place until it has completely cooled. Never throw water on a flaming pan or pot of oil because an explosion of flaming oil droplets will erupt, spreading the fire and causing injuries.

Bedrooms – Never smoke in bed, and keep clear a minimum distance of one metre (three feet) around space heaters. Keep smoker’s materials away from children to prevent them playing with fire.

Put out candles before going to bed. Have working smoke alarms on every level of the home, including the basement. For added protection, install smoke alarms inside each bedroom. A combination of the two types of smoke alarms – ionization and photoelectric – may provide the best protection. The type of alarm will be printed on the box or package.

Living Room – Do not overload electrical outlets and make sure that no furniture is sitting on a cord. If using candles, use them with care. Make sure an adult is in the room and paying attention when a candle is lit and be sure the candle is blown out before leaving the room.

Basement – Never store flammable products indoors. Vapours from gasoline, paint thinner and other similar products can be ignited by open flames, including the pilot light in gas water heaters and other appliances. Laundry Room – Lint that builds up in the dryer is a fire hazard. Clean the lint basket after every load of laundry. Occasionally, use the vacuum attachment to clean inside the dryer vent. Only use the dryer when you are home, and turn it off if you go out.

Garage – Store only small amounts of gasoline in a locked cabinet or shed, using a tightly-sealed container approved for gasoline storage. Lock your garage entry doors at night to prevent potential arsonists or vandals from entering and setting fire.

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 in 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 fire safety. Let’s keep our families safe.

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