Making sure you have a working smoke alarm is the simplest thing you can do to protect yourself in the case of a fire, according to Kevin Plested, Fire Prevention Officer for the Bracebridge Fire Department.
As of Sept. 14, 86 people have died in fires in Ontario. “That’s a preventable stat,” Plested says. “Every year we seem to be ticking up with further fire-related deaths.”
The Ontario Fire Marshal has partnered with many fire departments in the province, including the five in Muskoka, for the #CauseForAlarm campaign. The social media campaign uses a fictitious video as a blunt reminder to make sure your smoke alarms are working.
Trigger Warning: This content may be disturbing or distressing to those dealing with trauma. In Ont this year, we have lost 86 ppl in fires; many were preventable. We have partnered with @ONFireMarshal today to put out a #CauseForAlarm #HomeFireSafety: https://t.co/a7SZqqU8g2 pic.twitter.com/AhRtDJlZJH
— Bracebridge Fire (@bracebridgefire) September 28, 2022
Plested says smoke and carbon monoxide alarms should be tested monthly. As well, they should be changed every 10 years, so he says to look for an expiration date on them. If you can’t find one, Plested recommends replacing it for “peace of mind.”
A battery-operated alarm can be changed easily by most, but Plested says if it’s hardwired it should only be changed by someone with electrical knowledge.
While COVID-19 has prevented the fire department from entering homes during its annual alarm inspection campaign. Plested says “most” people they spoke to said they were in compliance. “It was more of an education campaign at the door,” he added.
“If they close that door and check them in that moment, that’s a win in our books,” Plested says.
The Bracebridge department is preparing for both Fire Prevention Week from Oct. 9 to 15 and its annual school visits.
Plested urges parents to start talking to their kids about fire safety. “Without those parents assisting those kids and taking it back home with them and teaching them, it’s not going to work as well,” he says. That includes figuring out a home fire escape plan with two ways out and planning a meeting place for when everyone is out.
“If kids aren’t practicing that, there’s a chance they might not get out in a real emergency,” he says.