Fire Safety & Prevention

It's now or never

Fires destroy property, cause injuries, and take lives. The goal of fire prevention is to educate the public to take precautions to prevent potentially harmful fires. The general population needs education about the dangers of fires and how to survive a fire. Fire prevention is a proactive method of reducing emergencies and the damage caused by them. To prevent a fire, the objective is to keep sources of ignition and fuel separate from one another.

The best defense against fire in the home is preparation. People should create an evacuation plan. This plan should be regularly rehearsed to avoid panic and confusion in the event of a fire. Fire hazards, such as matches and lighters, should be kept out of the reach of young children. Small fires should be put out with a fire extinguisher if possible. Large fires, or fires that begin to spread, should be left for firefighters.
Smoke alarms should be placed properly in homes and checked regularly to ensure the smoke alarms will notify people when a fire occurs. To get help as quickly as possible, children should know to dial 911 as soon as a fire is noticed. People are approximately 66% more likely to sustain a serious injury or death in homes without smoke alarms. Smoke alarms will not eliminate the risk of dangerous situations, but smoke alarms can reduce the risk of serious injury or damage occurring in the home from fires.

Fire safety and education should start early even if this training is only basic, to begin with for children. A fire extinguisher is an active fire protection device used to extinguish or control small fires in emergency situations. A fire will generally be a more traumatic experience for children than for adults. Developing and reviewing a simple fire plan can help children to minimize panic and to stay focused on escaping the dangerous situation. Children must know how to call for help, use a fire extinguisher, how to get out of a burning building, and what actions to take should their clothes catch on fire. Young children may learn this kind of information using simpler language and visuals, so they understand as much as possible.

Mental or physical disabilities can create barriers that can increase the risk of serious injury or death from a fire. Each person needs to have a strategy for getting out of a building quickly in the event of a fire or another emergency. Fires can happen whether we are at home, at work, or in a public area such as a mall, theater, or hotel. Anyone who has reduced mobility, a speech, hearing or visual impairment, or a cognitive limitation may need assistance to evacuate a building in an emergency. Preparation and planning are the keys to surviving in an emergency situation. Strategies should be in place to prevent injuries for all building occupants. The more information captured in emergency procedures and plans, then the better equipped emergency managers will be in the event of an emergency.

In most Canadian provinces, building managers are required to maintain a list of at-risk individuals in their building, whether a workplace or a residential building. While individuals are not obligated to identify as being at risk, it is in their best interest to communicate their evacuation needs and abilities to avoid putting themselves and others at risk. Emergency managers and individuals should work together to plan the best, most suitable evacuation and assistance strategy. When proper fire safety planning and education takes place, everyone will be more likely to be safe from fires and other dangerous hazards.

Sources:
Canada Fire Safety and Prevention
Disability Barriers and Hazards
General Fire Safety Tips
Stats Canada

This article was written by volunteer blogger Shan Simpson and edited by volunteer editor Scott Jacobsen.