9 October 2014

October is fire prevention month; are you prepared?

In honour of fire prevention month and the National Fire Protection Association, here is some valuable information to share with your clients. Whether your client is located in a wildfire zone, or if conditions are simply dry enough to let fire spread rapidly, below are some tips that are proven to prevent losses from the blaze.

We encourage everyone to prepare ahead of time for potential fires, because there is no time for planning when a fire actually happens. Here is a checklist of ideas to get you started:

  • Make sure that fire vehicles can get to your home: clearly mark all driveway entrances and display your name and address.
  • Report hazardous conditions that could cause a fire.
  • Teach children about fire safety. Keep matches out of their reach.
  • Post fire emergency telephone numbers.
  • Know where your fire extinguisher is mounted and make sure everyone in the household knows how to use it.
  • Ensure you have working smoke detectors in your home on each level.
  • Plan several escape routes away from your home.
  • Use fire-resistant or noncombustible materials on the roof and exterior structure of the dwelling, or treat wood or combustible material used in roofs, siding, decking, or trim with fire-retardant chemicals evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory.
  • Plant fire-resistant shrubs and trees. For example, hardwood trees are less flammable than pine, evergreen, eucalyptus or fir trees.
  • Talk to your neighbours about wildfire safety. Make a list of your neighbors' skills, such as medical or technical. Consider how you could help neighbors who have special needs (such as being elderly or disabled).

Garages are a common area for fires to occur because they are often used to store combustible and flammable items. This is better than storing them directly in your home, but there is still risk involved. Here is how you can prevent garage fires:

  • Store flammable substances like gasoline, oil and paints in a sealed, fire-resistant cabinet or container away from appliances, heaters, pilot lights or any other sources of heat.
  • Never store propane cylinders indoors; they are sturdy enough to be stored outside. Propane is highly combustible and the risk of fire is undeniably high; it could cause a deadly explosion.
  • Always clean up any spill that occurs in the garage immediately. Any remaining spills could lead to disaster.
  • Never smoke in your garage; discarded matches and cigarette butts start millions of fires every year.
  • Be aware of your electrical situation and be careful to use bulbs of the correct wattage. Do not overload outlets.
  • Avoid buildup of “junk.” Rid the garage of dust, cobwebs and trash on a monthly basis.
  • Make sure your garage is equipped with a working fire detector and a fire extinguisher.

Another notable topic:

Smoke detectors are indispensable and should be installed in every home; detectors, however, only sound an alarm locally, where they are mounted, meaning someone needs to be home to hear it. With central station alarming — monitored from an outside source — the alarm will be relayed to the nearest fire department for the fastest response time, and a quick turnaround means more lives and possessions saved. For around $30 per month plus installation fees, this is worth considering for your family’s safety and peace-of-mind.

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