Fire Prevention Week

It’s that time of year again when reminders of how to keep ourselves and our homes safe from the ravages of fire are in the spotlight.

Fire Prevention Week runs Oct. 5th – 11th and this year’s theme is ‘Working Smoke Alarms Save Lives. Test Yours Every Month!’

Locally, officials are working to educate the public on the importance of making sure their smoke alarms are in good working order. It’s absolutely vital to make sure these little contraptions are in ship-shape – statistics from the National Fire Protection Association show that roughly half of home fire deaths result from fires that are reported at night between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.

Officials also point out that people should install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside of the bedroom and then also install a minimum of one smoke alarm on every level, including the basement. It’s also important to remember to test each on one a monthly basis as well.

They should also be replaced if they are 10 years or older and if they are battery operated, the batteries should be changed once a year.

Officials have pointed out that throughout the province more than half of the house fires firefighters attend to either don’t have their smoke alarms working, or they are pulled down out of the ceiling.

According to Fire Prevention Canada, hundreds of people die in residential fires in Canada every year. In many fires that have been extinguished in their early stages, people have been found dead of smoke inhalation without having suffered burns. It has been estimated many of these lives could have been saved by the installation of properly functioning smoke alarms.

Normally, air is made-up of about 21% oxygen.

When it falls below the 17% level, thinking and coordination become difficult. Below 16% a person’s behaviour turns irrational, hindering escape efforts. Breathing becomes impossible when oxygen levels fall below 6%.

Fire Prevention Week’s roots reach back to the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 which lasted two days – Oct. 8th and 9th – and killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless and burned more than 2,000 acres.

According to Fire Prevention Canada, that fire forever changed the way that public officials viewed fire safety.

“To mark the 40th anniversary of this tragic event, the Fire Marshals Association of North America deemed that the most appropriate commemoration was to do everything they could to educate and inform the public about the importance of fire safety and prevention. Since 1922, Fire Prevention Week has been observed every Sunday through to the Saturday that Oct. 9th falls on.”

Every year, the federal government arranges for the Fire Prevention Week Order in Council Proclamation by the Governor General of Canada – and joins forces with Fire Prevention Canada which organizes and holds the National Launch to promote the observance of Fire Prevention Week across Canada.