For young people out on their own for the first time, there are a lot of things to think about, but fire safety isn’t usually at the front of their minds.
This is why having functional smoke alarms is important, as it can help you get out quickly and safely in event of a fire.
“I remember when I was in university; I was in residence for two years and then moved out into an apartment with roommates,” said Carol Henke, the Calgary Fire Department’s public information officer.
“I can’t even recall making a mental note of whether there were any working smoke alarms in any of the apartments that we lived in.”
Once a fire starts, you have less than three minutes to get out, as a fire doubles in size approximately every 30 seconds.
“A couple of breaths of house fire smoke, you’ll start coughing and you’ll be incapable of rescuing yourself and getting out,” Henke said.“This is why prevention is so important.”
The fire department attends almost 60,000 calls in a year, and 25 per cent of those are fire-related and a smaller percentage are residential or building fires.
“I think the important thing to remember is that (the number of fires) doesn’t really mean anything,” Henke said.“What does mean something is the people that are injured or killed in fires.”
Henke said property is important too, but the preservation of life is where the impact is.The loss of life is traumatic, not just for the family and friends of the victims, but also for the community as a whole.
“Every single day in the city of Calgary, someone leaves something on the stove accidentally, forgets about it and we get called to a kitchen fire,” Henke said. “Once these things happen, people don’t know what to do.”
Ways to prevent fires can include something as simple as changing over to LED candles rather than using candles with flames, because when they’re left unattended, they run the risk of starting a fire.
Having too many electronics plugged in at once, or not using the right charger for an item can cause it to overheat and cause a fire as well.
Henke also stressed the importance of not only working to prevent fires, but to understand fire safety.
For more information on fire safety and fire prevention go to www.calgary.ca/fire.