An Age of Prevention
Gerard lives in a comfortable ancestral home that his grandfather built. Equipped with smoke alarms and a portable extinguisher, Gerard considered himself to be well protected against fire hazards until Rosalie, his companion, organized a luncheon meeting last Sunday.
Martin, a firefighter and Rosalie's nephew, came in to give a discussion about fire prevention. He touched on three important issues: how to be alerted about a fire, how to emerge from a fire safely and how to prevent fires.
Martin began with a discussion about smoke alarms. Only a smoke alarm can alert residents of danger. There should be one smoke alarm on each floor of a house and they should be installed near bedrooms. There should also be a smoke alarm in the basement. Gerard's home did not have smoke alarm in the basement. He therefore quickly remedied the situation. There are a wide range of smoke alarms available. Some alarms have a large easy-to-push test button for biannual tests. Others require only a flashlight for testing. Some smoke alarms come with a strobe light, vibration or emit a high-pitched noise for the hearing impaired. Gerard was also unaware of the fact that you have to clean a smoke alarm, check it every month and if it is battery-operated, replace the battery each year.
Gerard knows how to flee a building that is on fire. He has seen enough movies to know how. Well… it turns out that movies are not an accurate reflection of reality. In Gerard's case, for example, who still lives in his house, Martin recommends that he sleep on the ground floor. If there is a fire, it will be much easier for him to flee his home!
Gerard went on to explain that last summer, when his son helped him repaint a few rooms, the paint had sealed the windows shut. Luckily, he noticed this problem! Martin pointed out that windows can also become frozen shut. A window is an emergency exit. Keeping it unobstructed can save lives. They should therefore be checked regularly, whether you live in a residence or a house.
Many fires start in the kitchen. Precautions are necessary! When cooking, wear clothing with tight-fitting sleeves. Use oven mitts instead of a dish towel to handle items. Keep oven mitts away from stove elements and never put a cloth over the stove control panel.
Always keep an eye on the stove when cooking. If you have to leave to answer the door or telephone, lower the heat. You should ideally turn off the element. The oven should never be used as storage space. Plastic dishes and pot handles can catch fire.
Rosalie adores perfume so Gerard decided to give her a pot-pourri jar. It's certainly less hazardous than scented candles, which can be fall over or electric scented plug-ins!
Magic bags are practical for treating minor ailments, but they should be heated only according to the manufacturer's recommended time and heating intensity.
Gerard has a living room fireplace and enjoys reading in the warm atmosphere in the company of Rosalie, who prefers knitting for her grandchildren! A fireplace, however, requires maintenance! As it happens, Gerard had his chimney swept and inspected last spring. A sensible preventive measure, since it is during the summer in particular that creosote and high humidity combine to wreak havac on chimney components.
And electricity! Well! Extension cords can be dangerous. Extension cords that come with circuit breakers are best. They should also not be placed under carpets or suspended from hooks because wear and tear damages the wire and can cause a fire. Overloading electrical outlets and extension cords should also be avoided.
« Mr. Gerard, since you brought up electricity, do you have your electrical panel inspected regularly by a master electrician? » enquires Martin. "Of Course! He was here last month!"
The luncheon meeting was a huge success. Gerard is proud of Rosalie's efforts. Everyone had a lot to learn. Especially given that although we get older and wiser, there is no age for prevention!
With the assistance of the Service de sécurité incendie et civile, La Tuque