Fire Prevention Week: Plan to be safe

Planning is the key to being safe in the event of a fire in your home.

If there’s one thing that will save your life in the event of a fire, it’s being prepared.

Not just a cliched phrase, Fire Chief Trent Bossence of the Kitimat Fire Department said that he knows from experience that working smoke alarms in the home have prevented many tragedies.

Bossence emphasized the need for planning in anticipation of Fire Prevention Week, but the knowledge will hopefully carry on all year long.

This year’s theme, he said, is always have two ways out.

That means have an escape route for your home, and even for the bedroom.

“It’s one thing to have it…but if you don’t actually practice it or put it into operation you don’t know how it’s going to work,” said Bossence, emphasizing the importance of actually practicing a plan.

He said there are emergency roll-up ladders people can buy for their second story windows as a possible alternate escape route.

He said it didn’t matter so much how often you practice the plan, but to do it as much as it takes to be comfortable with it.

Practicing a plan doesn’t just mean doing everything as you would in a fire — kids especially shouldn’t be practicing how to get outside from their second storey window — but kids should be made aware of the plan and be old enough to understand what to do.

Smoke alarms are an important part of protecting yourelf and the fire department will give them out to people if they come asking.

He said in addition to Fire Prevention Week, the Fire Chiefs’ Association will be doing a campaign to get people to make sure they have working smoke alarms in their homes.

“Our goal is to have every home in Kitimat have a working smoke alarm,” said Bossence. “They do save lives.”

Fire fighters will also be joining local schools for the Risk Watch program, starting in November. The program is done every year to teach students about fire safety.

And this week the fire department will be pulling a name from a box to determine who will be this year’s Fire Chief for a day. Each year one lucky elementary school student is picked to don the fire gear and find out what it’s like to fight fires for a living.

Bossence said that he’s not aware of any single thing that is to blame for most home fires but there are some common factors; being a smoker is one, and kitchens are a major source of fires. Grease can ignite, as can small appliances like toasters. He said keeping those things unplugged is a smart idea.

“It seems kind of silly…but they short out,” he said.

And with Christmas approaching, fire risk grows from the christmas lights on the tree, and lit candles. Wood stoves are also something to keep an eye on.

As people plug in baseboard heaters this fall as temperatures cool he also reminds people to keep things at a safe distance from them.

“We went to a couple of fires last year due to baseboard heaters,” he said. “Luckily everyone’s alright.”

In at least one of those incidents the cause was a jacket draped over a chair that sat a little too close to the heater.