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Deborah Jones

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Make December 2012 Fire Safe!

Posted December 17, 2012 @ 12:44PM

Windsor Fire & Rescue Asks the Community to Practice
the 12 Days of Holiday Fire Safety
Help make the Ontario Fire Marshal’s Wish Come True for the Most Fire-Safe December Ever.

The Fire Marshal’s Public Fire Safety Council has launched its second annual 12 Days of Holiday Fire Safety Campaign to help prevent fire and carbon monoxide tragedies at a time when people tend to let their guard down.

“Our team of investigators knows all too well the deadly consequences of fire safety fundamentals left unattended,” says Ted Wieclawek, Ontario Fire Marshal and Chair of the Fire Marshal’s Public Fire Safety Council.   “Our 12 Days of Holiday Fire Safety campaign focuses on the 12 tips that we know can have the biggest impact on reducing devastating fires and carbon monoxide exposures,” Wieclawek adds.

The Fire Marshal has called on fire departments and communities across Ontario to help make his wish come true for “the most fire-safe December on record”.   The Council’s goal is to engage at least 100 fire departments, including Windsor Fire & Rescue, and their surrounding communities in the crusade to get the public to join in the program.

The 12 Days of Holiday Fire Safety serves up useful tips ranging from replacing smoke alarms over ten years old to keeping space heaters at least one metre away from anything that can burn.  The public are encouraged to pledge their support of the Fire Marshal’s Holiday Safety Wish, simply by being aware of the tips and putting the essential safeguards in place at home. 

“Fire tragedies are in decline for 2012 in this province—25 fewer deaths so far this year—but the holiday season can bring distractions that lead to tragedy,” says Wieclawek.

The remarks are echoed by Windsor’s Fire Chief Bruce Montone.  “While fire can happen anywhere, at anytime, it most often strikes when people let their guard down—when individuals are distracted by the hustle and bustle of the holidays, by the telephone, by the kids or by the doorbell.  All it takes is for a pot to be left on the stove, or a candle to be left burning unattended, and a family’s holiday celebrations can turn to tragedy,” he says.

Homeowners and renters alike are urged to check their safety routine against these 12 Days of Holiday Fire Safety tips:

  1. Water fresh trees daily. Keep the base of the trunk in water at all times.
  2. Check all sets of lights before decorating. Discard any sets that are frayed or damaged.
  3. Make sure you have working smoke alarms. Remember, they wear out, so replace them every 10 years.
  4. Make sure you have working carbon monoxide alarms. Remember, they wear out, so replace them every 7-10 years.
  5. Make sure everyone knows how to get out safely if a fire occurs. Develop and practice a home fire escape plan.
  6. Use extension cords wisely. Extension cords should be used only as a temporary connection.
  7. Give space heaters space.  Keep them at least one metre away from anything that can burn.
  8. When you go out, blow out!  Remember to always blow out candles before leaving the room.
  9. Keep matches and lighters out of the sight and reach of children. Matches and lighters can be deadly in the hands of children.
  10. Watch what you heat! Always stay in the kitchen when cooking.
  11. Encourage smokers to smoke outside. Careless smoking is the leading cause of fatal fires.
  12. There's more to responsible drinking than taking a cab home.  Alcohol is all too often a common factor in many fatal fires.
Carol Heller, a fire safety expert with Kidde Canada, a partner to the Fire Marshal’s Public Fire Safety Council says, “As another year draws to a close, we need to be mindful that smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms do not last forever.  One of the most persistent issues we see is that homeowners continue to be unaware or forget that smoke alarms need replaced every 10 years, and carbon monoxide alarms, every 5 to 7 years, whether battery operated or hard-wired.”

"Smoke and CO alarm tampering is another issue that can escalate at this time of year due to all the new toys and electronics that run off batteries and the increased incidence of nuisance alarms as we cook and entertain more at this joyous time,” Heller adds.

For more background on the 12 tips or to pledge support for the most fire-safe December ever in Ontario, visit www.safeathome.ca/12days.

The Fire Marshal’s Public Fire Safety Council was established in 1993 to promote fire prevention and public education through partnerships with various groups and individuals with an interest in public safety. The Council also provides opportunities for members to participate in shaping the direction of fire safety strategies across the province by enabling them to have input on fire safety initiatives and share ideas, information and resources toward the common goal of improved fire safety.

by Deborah Jones Publisher Biz X Magazine

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