Keep your holiday season happy and safe by being fire-smart
While professional fire services, smoke alarms and fire extinguishers are vital when property fires strike, some good old common sense and knowledge is the best tool to preventing them from happening.
“Home fires are a silent threat that can devastate lives in an instant. Practicing fire safety mindfully, with an eye toward prevention over reaction, we can all do our part in keeping our homes and loved ones safe,” says Gareth Jones, President of the Canada Safety Council.
That’s the message the Council delivered as part of its annual National Home Fire Safety Week. They cite statistics from US based National Fire Protection Association and Canadian Red Cross that indicates fires occur mostly in the winter months, especially around Christmas.
To avoid the risk of your holiday going up in flames, BFL CANADA recommends the following suggestions for peace of mind.
1. Christmas trees and lights
Real or artificial, both types of trees pose a risk of fire. If you have a real Christmas tree, it must be watered regularly and should not be allowed to dry out. Keep trees and other decorative materials away from heat sources such as fireplaces and use only approved electrical products and LED lighting. The latter produces less heat and reduces the risk of fire.
Lights should be turned off when going to bed or leaving the house and interior and exterior strings of lights should not exceed the recommended limit of connections in a series. Overloading circuits could lead to serious consequences. Don’t use old lights or electrical ornaments that may have frayed, exposed, or worn wiring.
Kitchens are the most common source of house fires and this risk increases around the holiday season when ovens, stove tops and other appliances are running at full capacity. To ensure safety, make sure to clean any build-up of grease and to keep flammable items away from flames and heat sources. Don’t leave cooking unattended and always stay in the kitchen while food is cooking. Also, keep children and pets at a safe distance. Ensuring fans are operating and having a fire-extinguisher close at hand is important too. If a fire does break-out never use water to extinguish it as it merely spreads the flames especially if grease based.
Candles are a part of many people’s traditions but can cause a fire if accidentally knocked over if they make contact with flammable materials. Be particularly careful with them around children and pets, and always ensure they are extinguished before leaving the room or going to bed.
4. Smoke alarms
Firefighters find that in many cases, smoke alarms are not working when they are called to a house fire. Alarms that combine photoelectric and ionization technology are recommended, and carbon monoxide detectors are also recommended if your home has a natural gas stove or other gas source. To make sure your alarm works when you most need it, BFL CANADA recommends smoke alarms are tested monthly and replaced every 10 years:
Sprinklers are highly effective in combating a fire once it occurs. A single sprinkler head can release 75 liters of water per minute. They can also cause a lot of damage, so it’s important to have adequate insurance. Equally important is the need to keep sprinklers well maintained and secure. Never hang anything from your sprinkler line or heads. This includes electrical cords, cables, candle holders, clothing, and hangers. Also, ensure that heads have guards and cages to protect them from damage.
6. Preparation is key
Preparation always means planning for potential worst-case scenarios. Keep an inventory of your possessions and valuables. Photos of each room is an important way to document your belongings. Most importantly have an evacuation plan in place, that way you can enjoy the holidays and be ready for any eventuality.