Emer­gency pre­pared­ness be­gins at home

The Western Star - - EDITORIAL - Brian Hodder Brian Hodder is an LGBTQ2 ac­tivist and works in the field of men­tal health and ad­dic­tions. He can be reached at bd­hod­[email protected]­mail.com.

Safety is some­thing most Cana­di­ans take for granted. We are for­tu­nate to live in one of the best coun­tries in the world with a high stan­dard of liv­ing, a rel­a­tively low crime rate, de­cent hous­ing and well-de­vel­oped sys­tems and or­ga­ni­za­tions to re­spond in the event of an emer­gency.

Most of us feel con­fi­dent that if some­thing se­ri­ous goes wrong, there will be re­sources to deal with the prob­lem, pro­vide res­cue or re­lief as needed and help get us back on our feet if we suf­fer a loss of prop­erty or pos­ses­sions.

While this is a great com­fort, such re­sources are of­ten not enough to deal with some emer­gen­cies and we can cer­tainly do a bet­ter job of pre­par­ing our­selves for what we hope will never hap­pen to us.

The topic is fore­most in my mind be­cause last week, Oct. 6 to 12, was Fire Preven­tion Week in this coun­try. One of the main mes­sages pro­moted by the Na­tional Fire Pro­tec­tion As­so­ci­a­tion was to en­cour­age Cana­di­ans to plan and prac­tise the es­cape plan from their homes.

I sit on the Oc­cu­pa­tional Health and Safety (OHS) com­mit­tee at my work­place and one of the things we do reg­u­larly through­out the year is have fire drills as re­quired by OHS statutes. I sus­pect most of us who work in larger work­places have sim­i­lar pro­ce­dures. But I won­der how many of us make the time to ap­ply this cru­cial safety pre­ven­ta­tive mea­sure at home, to help pro­tect those we love the most?

Even with reg­u­lar fire drills, we still find ways to im­prove and when it comes to fire, sec­onds can make the dif­fer­ence be­tween life and death. When we hear a fire alarm, our heart starts to race. For many of us, log­i­cal thought goes out the win­dow as our brain goes into cri­sis mode. Hav­ing reg­u­larly prac­tised where to go to get out safely is vi­tal when this oc­curs. With mod­ern build­ing styles and fur­ni­ture built with syn­thetic ma­te­ri­als that may burn more fiercely, it’s only a short time be­fore the air be­comes toxic and it is too late to es­cape.

My heart goes out to a fam­ily from this re­gion who know all too well how quickly fire in our mod­ern homes can de­stroy a fam­ily. The Barhos fam­ily came to Canada from Syria a lit­tle over two years ago to find a safe place to live and set­tled just out­side Hal­i­fax. In Fe­bru­ary, this sense of safety was shat­tered by a house fire that claimed the lives of all seven chil­dren and left the fa­ther se­verely burned. From what was re­ported, the mother came down­stairs to get a bot­tle for the baby and found the couch on fire. She alerted her hus­band who sent her next door for help while he at­tempted to put out the fire and get his chil­dren, sleep­ing up­stairs, to safety; trag­i­cally, the fire spread so rapidly he was un­able to do so and all the chil­dren per­ished in their bed­rooms.

We don’t know if this fam­ily had ever prac­tised a fire drill and it isn’t my in­ten­tion to crit­i­cize any­one if such were the case. We can’t know the pain and heartache they have ex­pe­ri­enced over the loss of their chil­dren and I trust the ser­vices I ref­er­enced above, along with the com­mu­nity around them, are help­ing them find a way through this tragedy.

I do hope that fo­cus­ing on this tragedy can bring at­ten­tion to how cru­cial it is for all of us to de­velop and prac­tise es­cape plans from our homes in the event of a house fire. As this week stresses, preven­tion is a crit­i­cal com­po­nent of how we deal with fire. While we can’t pre­vent all fire tragedies, we can re­duce the loss of life if we are pre­pared.

We ap­pre­ci­ate the safety this coun­try pro­vides, and we have a role to play to en­sure there is the same safety in our own homes and lives.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.