Ensure Your Family is Prepared When the Topic is Fire Safety and Prevention
(6 months ago)
TORONTO: While most Canadians believe they are well-informed when it comes to fire safety and prevention in their homes, a new national survey** commissioned by First Alert Canada, reveals that there is a need for Canadians to be more informed about the importance of smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms and key safety steps.
"On average 73 percent of fire fatalities occur in residential homes**," said Tarsila Wey, director of marketing for First Alert, a leader in residential fire and carbon monoxide detection devices. "Many of these tragedies could be prevented with proper placement and maintenance of working smoke alarms, as well as prior emergency and escape planning. At First Alert, we aim to help Canadians understand the importance of practicing fire safety and involving their whole families when discussing the topic."
Ensuring properly functioning smoke and CO alarms are installed throughout the home - one on each level and in every bedroom, as the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends - is the first line of defense for fire prevention. Additionally, alarms must be regularly tested- and alarms do not last forever and must be replaced at least every 10 years.
On the question of how many smoke alarms are present in their homes, the survey revealed that a sizeable number of Canadians do not have the recommended number smokes alarms and carbon monoxide alarms. According to the study, nearly one in five two-story homes had just one smoke alarm in place despite guidelines or laws requiring at least two alarms.
The survey also revealed that Canadians need to be more attentive when it comes to maintaining their smoke alarms. Battery checks and proper maintenance are critical, yet 67% of Canadians do not replace their alarm batteries as often as they should, usually waiting until the alarm begins to chirp. The NFPA recommends testing alarms regularly and replacing batteries at least every six months.
Beyond alarms, having fire extinguishers - and knowing how to use them - is an important part of maintaining a safe home for you and your family. Place extinguishers in each area of the home where a fire could potentially occur, including the kitchen, living room, each bedroom and garage.
Canadians should also be aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide. It is an invisible and odorless gas produced when fossil fuels like oil, gas or coal burn. Exposure to lower levels over time can cause sickness. High levels of CO exposure can lead to death.
While carbon monoxide alarms are also a key element of home safety, and required by law in Ontario and Quebec, the survey revealed that more than a third of Canadian homes do not have any CO protection. Significantly fewer homes comply with the CO detector legislation in Quebec with nearly two thirds (58%) without a alarm currently in the home. Furthermore, the survey shows that the Atlantic (56%) and British Columbia (48%) homes do not have a CO alarm installed.
Another critical component of fire safety is having - and frequently practicing - an escape plan with your family. As part of this plan, equip second-floor sleeping areas with escape ladders, and discuss how to use them. In the event of an emergency, it is important to exit the home, stay outside and wait at the predesignated meeting area. Call 911 and wait until officials clear your home to re-enter it safely.
The survey reveals that just 56% of Canadians have a fire escape plan, and among those that do, just one in five said they practiced it twice a year. Breaking results down by city, Ottawa residents ranked lowest on fire escape planning, with just 46% saying they have a plan in place. Surprisingly, 20% of poll respondents said they did not even know if their home had a fire escape plan in place.
"Fire prevention and safety is our number one priority," says Wey. "Smoke alarms help give you an early warning and play a pivotal role in the safety and security of your home. It is important for homeowners and renters to test their alarms regularly and ensure that their alarms are working and up-to-date. We all have a part to play in reducing the risk of fires at home."
The NFPA recommends equipping homes with alarms of both types of smoke detection - photoelectric and ionization. Consider your home's specific needs regarding placement, making sure to install alarms in the basement, in or just outside every bedroom area and placing CO alarms on every level of the home. A variety of smoke alarms, including combination and 10-year battery powered models, are available to meet specific needs and local requirements.