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Speed Matters in a Fire

October 5th, 2011 | by admin admin | in Safety Advice |    1   comments

How much time do you have to escape a house fire? Three minutes. What is the target time for firefighters to arrive? Seven minutes. What you do in three minutes could save your life.

According to Fire Prevention Canada and the Alberta Fire Commissioner’s office, a 2005 study indicated that the synthetic materials in modern homes cause them to burn faster and emit more toxic fumes. Most victims die from smoke or toxic gases rather than physical burns. More aggressive fires mean residents need to escape faster. This prompted the Alberta government to create the 3-Minute Drill web site.

This interactive web site allows you to explore potential fire hazards in your home and learn how to manage them. For example, do you know:

  • Dryer lint can catch fire? Clean the lint filter before and after each use. And clear out the dryer exhaust duct and vent regularly.
  • Extension cords under carpet can overheat and catch fire?
  • You should never move a flaming pan or throw water on a grease fire?
  • How to clean oily rags after working on your car? Rinse them and dry outdoors. Store in lidless metal containers, never plastic.
  • Even a small amount of gasoline can produce flammable, explosive vapours?
  • What to do if you can’t plug your large appliance directly into an outlet? Use a 14-gauge,three-wire, grounding appliance extension cord.

The site is a great way to do a virtual safety check of your home. After you’ve reviewed the safety tips, test your knowledge with a short quiz. Of course, knowing about the hazards in your home won’t help unless you remove them.

For trivia and history buffs: October 9 to 15 is National Fire Prevention Week, which commemorates the Great Chicago Fire and the Peshtigo Forest Fire. Both blazes started on October 8, 1871. The former killed 250 people and left 100,000 homeless; the latter burned down 16 towns, killed 1,152 people and scorched 1.2 million acres.

Both events remind us that the smallest spark can unleash a devastating firestorm. While you may not have a lantern or a cow to kick it over, why not spend next week making your home safer?

To learn more about National Fire Prevention Week – and how Mrs. O’Leary’s famous cow has largely been cleared of guilt for causing the Great Chicago Fire – check out the National Fire Prevention Association’s web site.

Fire Prevention Canada, a charitable organization whose members include the Council of Canadian Fire Marshals and Fire Commissioners, the fire service and private sector representatives, also offers many resources promoting fire safety.

Author: Susanna Chu

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