The City of St Catharines geared up over the weekend for its annual Fire Prevention Week with an open house at St Catharines Fire and Safety Emergency Services at Fire Station 1 on Geneva street. This year’s theme for the event and coming week is “Every Second Counts: Plan Two Ways Out”.
The event on September 30 invited members of the community to come out and discuss smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, fire safety and escape plans in case situations like a house fire could occur. Additionally, the event featured fire hall tours, contests, children’s activities and fun events for the whole family, as well as a free barbeque.
The main focus of the event, as well as the upcoming fire prevention week, is to try and get a conversation going about escape routes. Particularly, if the escape plan you have is made unavailable by fire or fallen debris, is there a second one in place to get you out? Acting Fire Chief, Jeff McCormick, encourages residents to start planning two ways out of any room in their home.
In a news release for the City of St Catharines, McCormick states that, “time is precious during a house fire, so it’s important to know how to get out fast. Every second counts. Work with your family to create a home escape plan with two ways out of every room and a place to meet outside. Once you have an escape plan, practise it together so you all know where to go.”
As stated on the St Catharines website under Fire Safety, most fires are preventable, and while many fires can be prevented, there are still countless deaths and injuries from house fires every year. The fact is that most house fire fatalities occur during the night when the people are sleeping. Many of these fatal fires can be linked to the residence either lacking a smoke alarm or having smoke alarms with the batteries removed.
Your chance of survival in the case of deadly house fires significantly improves when you have working smoke alarms on every level of your home, especially inside or just outside of bedrooms. The smoke alarm, which will begin to go off the moment smoke is detected, can alert the resident before it becomes too late.
This is especially important because the smoke is more likely to reach the resident or their family members before the flames do. Additionally, smoke contains chemicals like carbon monoxide that inhibits the supply of oxygen the body can take in, meaning that there is a strong possibility the resident may end up falling into a deeper sleep rather than waking up.
The best prevention of possible fatalities is to make sure smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are functioning with fully charged batteries. Consider changing the batteries once a year and the fire alarms entirely every ten years as fire alarms do not last forever. Additionally, make sure to have a plan in place for the entire family in order to make sure that everyone knows what to do in case a fire alarm should go off.
Fire Prevention Week takes place between October 8 – 14 which will include holding fire drills and discussing home escape plans and fire safety across St Catharines schools. St Catharines Firefighters will be at Happy Rolph’s Animal Farm for Pumpkinville between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. on October 14 to meet with families who might be interested in discussing fire safety and escape plans. Firefighters will also be available at Home Depot as well on Oct. 14 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. to discuss fire safety and escape plans with anyone interested in learning more.
Fire safety information and handouts will be available throughout Fire Prevention Week at the St. Catharines Kiwanis Aquatics Centre.