By Jeremy Appel on October 11, 2018.
It’s Fire Prevention Week from Oct. 7-13 and the Medicine Hat Fire Department is collaborating with the National Fire Protection Association to promote this year’s campaign, entitled “Look. Listen. Learn.”
Carter Gramlich, a local fire prevention officer, says awareness is key, as most fires are started by accident.
“They’re the result of some form of carelessness,” said Gramlich.
Cooking is the most common cause of a fire at home, he added.
“When you’re in the kitchen, put your phone down and pay attention to what you’re doing,” Gramlich said.
Smoke alarms are a particularly valuable tool in preventing the spread of a fire.
“Obviously, the smoke alarm itself isn’t going to prevent a fire, but it will give you early detection and allow you to respond appropriately,” said Gramlich.
“If it’s a small cooking incident, maybe you have time to go rectify the problem before it turns into a fire, or if your house is full of smoke, hopefully it gives you time to respond, get yourself and your family out the door, call 911.”
The Government of Alberta recommends testing your alarm monthly, either with a blown-out candle or by pressing the device’s button.
They also suggest replacing the alarm every decade.
Gramlich highlighted the problem of “nuisance alarms” that go off too frequently.
“If some people have frequent nuisance alarms, they might be inclined to remove or disable the device because they’re sick of hearing it,” he said. “That complacency can lead to problems. If there’s an actual fire and people say, ‘Oh, it’s just another false alarm,’ they’re not going to respond appropriately or leave their apartment.”
If your fire alarm is going off to frequently, Gramlich suggests moving or replacing it.
“Unless you have a true mishap in your kitchen, you shouldn’t have a smoke alarm going off regularly,” he said.
Having an escape plan in case a fire breaks out is particularly important for families, ensuring that everyone in a household has two ways to exit their bedroom and establishing a meeting spot.
The provincial government recommends testing this plan biannually.
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