Does your home have at least two possible escape routes?
That’s the question that 100 Mile Fire Rescue chief Roger Hollander is asking the community for this year’s Fire Prevention Week. Having an escape plan in place in case of a fire is an overlooked but critical part of fire safety, but it has to be accessible.
Hollander asks that those who do have a second route, to ensure if that’s a window or a door that those doors or windows actually work.
“They could be frozen, there could be locks on there, there could be bars to contend with. There are lots of potential barriers and lots of solutions,” said Hollander.
Fire Prevention Week is organized by the National Fire Protection Association and is one of the oldest public education campaigns in Canada. This year Hollander said the theme is “Fire Won’t Wait, Plan your Escape.”
Hollander said everyone should take the time to make an escape plan this fall. This includes finding two possible escape routes and deciding on a muster point for family members to gather at. He advises that the public practice their plans, similar to the fire drills conducted at schools and places of business.
Each plan needs to be specially tailored for the home. Hollander said he welcomes the community contacting him at 250-395-2152 for advice or coming by the fire hall on Horse Lake Road from Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
“If they have any questions on how to plan that escape we can work with individuals on a case-by-case and house-by-house basis. There’s certainly not a one size fits all in this regard.”
There are, however, common things everyone should consider. Hollander said if you live in an apartment or basement suite you need to check whether or not your window operates properly. Having a second way out, especially in the place you’re sleeping, is critical.
“It’s not approved or legal to sleep in basements with no windows,” Hollander said. “You might say ‘oh there’s a lot of space down here, let’s put the kids’ bedroom down there’ but if there’s no way out that’s not good. Those are the things we’re looking to encourage people to think about.”
Hollander said this is a good time of year to consider other aspects of fire safety, such as ensuring smoke detectors are up to date and keeping a fire extinguisher you know how to use in the home. If members of the public need training in how to use a fire extinguisher, the department is willing to provide it.
He said cooking fires remain the leading cause of house fires and that everyone should never leave their stoves and ovens unattended. Hollander also said that if a small fire does break out to immediately call 911.
“Many of the local departments are volunteer or paid-on-call. It takes time for firefighters to get to the hall and then get to the fire,” Hollander said. “The earlier you call 911 in any situation the better. Some of the calls we go to people say ‘I’m sorry I called 911’ and it’s funny because this is what we signed up for. Even if there’s no actual fire we have large fans that can ventilate smoke from your home very quickly.”