Fire Prevention Month is winding down, making now an ideal time to remember the most important considerations in fire safety. This year’s Fire Prevention Month theme was Look, Listen, Learn. Let’s dig into what each of these means.
LOOK– Be on the lookout for possible causes of fire so you can prevent fires before they even start.
The most common cause for fires we’ve seen in our decades of experience at DKI-CRCS are kitchen fires that start when cooking is left unattended. Even in situations where fires are stopped before the spread to the rest of the house, a kitchen fire can still do a lot of damage to people and property. Avoid the risk by staying in the kitchen when you’re cooking and be prepared by having a fire extinguisher close at hand.
Electrical cords can also trigger a fire. Be sure to periodically check cords for damage, especially if you have a pet who likes to chew. Replace any damaged cords or take them to a shop for proper repair. If your pet is damaging cords, do everyone a favour and buy some chew toys for your furry buddy. Overloaded outlets are also a concern. If you’ve got an outlet that feeds electricity to multiple power bars, it might be time to move some of your devices or run an extension cord from another outlet. Use properly rated and grounded extension cords and be sure to buy power bars with built-in fuses for the best protection. Never leave a plugged-in device on a soft surface like a couch or bed. Laptops and even cell phones can quickly overheat, creating a dangerous situation.
One other major risk is smoking indoors. Whether indoors or outside, be sure to have a large ashtray on hand, and don’t leave anything unattended or smoke when you’re on the verge of sleep. Outdoor ashtrays are best when they are large, stable, and full of sand in order to extinguish any remaining embers.
LISTEN – Pay attention to warnings and keep your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors up to date.
Check your fire alarms every month, and if they aren’t performing properly, fit some fresh batteries and test again. Smoke detectors should be replaced entirely every ten years and you’ll need one on every story of your home. If you own a business, be sure to check with the Fire Inspector to make sure you’re up to standard.
Carbon Monoxide detectors should be checked and changed out with the same frequency as smoke detectors, so be sure to include them in your routine.
LEARN – Know how to prevent fires, and how to respond if one starts.
Before anything happens, make sure you know your way out of wherever you are. In familiar settings like homes and workplaces, this is easy to learn and remember. When travelling and staying in hotels, note emergency exit signs when you arrive.
Check in with your local fire department for information on how to properly use a fire extinguisher. Small fires may be contained quickly if you have the right equipment and knowledge, but not all extinguishers work on all types of fire. Once you know how to use them, be sure to keep extinguishers at home in the kitchen, workshop, garage, and in select closets so that there’s always one close at hand.
While workplaces hold fire drills and a staff member is designated as a fire marshal, families also need plans to ensure everyone is safe in the event of a fire. Make a plan with your family, and have your children join the planning process as they get older. Include your pets in the evacuation plan, but remember that possessions can be restored, repaired, or replaced. Practice your emergency plan on a regular basis. Create an emergency kit that is easy to carry in a hurry. Include photocopies of important documents like birth certificates and passports, as well as a small supply of prescription medication.
AFTER THE FIRE – No one ever expects a fire to happen, but there are a number of things that can help recovery go smoothly.
Get information from your fire department to help prepare and know what to expect. DKI-CRCS works closely with the Oshawa and Whitby Fire Departments to support education resources available to the public. Information booklets are available at fire stations, and we provide a fire-damaged kitchen demonstration that tours various community events to help educate the public.
With nearly four decades in the restoration business, we’ve learned a lot and can serve as a resource when you’re dealing with the aftermath of a fire. It’s an overwhelming experience, and we know that you’ll have a lot of questions. We make it a practice to go the extra mile in offering help. That can mean helping clients find short-term accommodations – often in the same school district – thanks to our strong community connections. We can offer advice on what to buy first when you’ve been displaced, and always remind people to save their receipts. Our staff do their best to restore your most precious personal items – you might be surprised at what we can salvage after a fire; we’ve even had some success in restoring photo albums and favourite pieces of furniture.
As we head into the coldest part of the year, now is an ideal time to start working on fire prevention with your family in your home simply by Looking, Listening, and Learning.