A plan. Working smoke detectors. A fire extinguisher.
North Saanich Volunteer Fire Department Chief John Trelford said this trilogy of items can make all the difference in case of a home fire.
“You want to have a plan,” said Trelford. “How are you going to get out (of your home in case of fire)? If you are on the second storey and if you have to get out, how are you going to get out? When you open that window, do you need a ladder to get down? Or is there a roof below you that you can get on?”
This plan should also designate a meeting place in case of fire, he added.
Trelford made these comments in light of Fire Prevention Week, which runs Oct. 9 through Oct. 15.
Trelford also stressed the importance of working smoke detectors. Experts say all smoke detectors should be replaced at least every 10 years and tested regularly to ensure their functioning. Ten-year sealed battery smoke detectors powered by sealed lithium batteries will give an end-of-life warning while others will require battery replacements.
Trelford recommends residents check their detectors annually. “If you have lived in a house for less than 10 years and you have never looked at (your smoke alarm), that’s a pretty good indicator to at least check them,” he said.
Families can combine this annual check of their smoke detectors with going over their plans to escape their homes in case of fire, Trelford said. “You can pick any date,” he said. “You can do it in the first week of the new year. That is always a good one. Or you pick somebody’s birthday. It doesn’t take long.”
This planning could even involve a dry run. “Just getting people to talk about it and have that plan is a good step,” said Trelford, adding that families differ. “Some people get right into it.”
Residents should also have a working fire extinguisher, “You can put out a lot of fires or at least slow (them) down considerably with a fire extinguisher,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be a huge one.”
Trelford also offers these broader tips. “If you are leaving the house, shut the door behind you,” he said. “If you leave windows and doors all wide open, it gives it all the oxygen it needs.”
Above all, he warns against trying to save physical items in case of fire. “Life safety is number one,” he said. “People get injured or die trying to save their stuff. You need to get as quickly as possible because your life is more important than your photo albums.”
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