Small, life-saving devices
BY ANGELA BROWN
News Staff Fire prevention starts with homeowners and tenants being proactive, to ensure their living space is safe from risk of fire.
In keeping with this year’s theme for Fire Prevention Week, Hear the Beep Where You Sleep, North Glengarry Fire Chief Stephen Stewart said a good way for residents to stay safe is to install smoke alarms throughout their homes, including in their bedrooms.
“Over the years we have responded to lots of calls during the night-time hours,” said Mr. Stewart. “Thankfully, most of the time the people do get out.”
He said homeowners need to look for ways to ensure their families can exit a building as quickly as possible.
Alexandria fire station deputy chief Bernard Lalonde pointed out people should ensure smoke detectors are working and the devices’ batteries are fresh.
The fire department recommends people have a smoke detector in their bedrooms because some people sleep with their bedroom doors closed, and may not hear an alarm somewhere else in their dwelling.
“It will pick up the signal a lot of times before our nose would,” said Mr. Lalonde.
Homeowners should also have carbon monoxide detectors that are in good working order. A carbon monoxide detector is the best way to detect the poisonous and odourless gas.
He also suggests that people have an evacuation plan. The test can be easily summarized, he observed. “Beep, beep, beep. You have 30 seconds to get to the door. Can you make it?”
Cigarette use is a killer, in many respects. Careless smoking remains the number one cause of fires.
Cooking-related fires are on the rise, especially involving teenagers who are home alone.
“That’s what I have been asked to implement in our schools -- safer cooking for teens, to know the limits of what you can do,” Mr. Lalonde related.
He advises teens not to start cooking with grease before their parents arrive home because “it’s a time bomb” that often leads to blazes.
Mr. Lalonde adds unattended tea-lights are hazardous. Now that battery operated tea-lights are available people should choose the safer alternative rather than using a candlelight with an open flame.
Mr. Stewart said people ought to ensure they don’t have excess debris in their homes or near their residences, since if the debris catches fire, the fire could spread to the house.
Residents should keep their doorways free of clutter, too, to enable firefighters access to enter a building if a fire starts.
“Most fires these days are caused by carelessness,” Mr. Stewart adds. “A lot of them are simply preventable.”
Mr. Stewart said oily rags sitting in a pail can easily spontaneously combust and can become a fire hazard.
Over the 28 years he has been with the fire