As temperatures decrease, fires increase: Red Cross fire prevention tips

Quebec-14-fevrier-2015-Quartier-St-Sauveur_2-credit-Steve-Jolicoeur_460-(1).jpgIn winter, fires are already more likely to occur, but a recent cold snap resulted in an increase in responses, largely due to the use of space heaters and wood stoves. Throw candles, dry trees, and kitchen fires into the mix and you get an explosive cocktail.
Throughout the year, including in the middle of the night at 30 below, Red Cross volunteers respond to an average of one emergency call every three hours, many of which are for house fires. They ensure that the people who were affected have their lodging, food and clothing needs met for the first 72 hours after the disaster and provide welcome comfort during these difficult times.
Here are a few important precautions to prevent fires:
  • Stay in the kitchen when using the stove. If you have to leave the room, turn off the stove.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire (clothes, towels and plastic) at least a metre away from heat sources such as hot plates and stoves.
  • Never smoke in bed.
  • Never leave lit candles unattended.
  • Install smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors on every level of your home. Test them monthly and replace the batteries at daylight savings time (March and November).
Make a plan with your family and practice it:
  • Identify all possible emergency exits.
  • Designate one person to help family members who may need assistance, such as small children or seniors.
  • Find a place outside for your family to meet.
  • Make sure everyone knows what the alarms sound like and what to do if they hear them.
  • Learn fire safety techniques. Take a moment to practice the “STOP, DROP, AND ROLL” method in case your clothing catches fire.
  • Get a disaster preparedness kit.
In the event of a house fire, it is important to:
  • Follow your escape plan. Get out and stay out.
  • Call for help at a neighbour’s house.
  • Crawl under low smoke when exiting your house.
  • If smoke, heat or flames block your exit, stay in the room with the doors closed. Place a wet towel under the door and call 9-1-1. Open a window and wave a brightly coloured cloth or use a flashlight to signal for help.
  • Do not open a door if the handle is hot.
To learn more, download the Red Cross Guide to Fire Recovery.

Photo credit: Steve Jolicoeur
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