Smoke alarms save lives; the focus during Fire Prevention Week

By Tanya Cronin
October 12, 2016 - 4:40pm Updated: October 12, 2016 - 5:32pm

KAMLOOPS — It's a small device that could save your life. Having a smoke alarm in your home, increases your chance of surviving a fire by 50% and fire officials are advising homeowners to check their smoke alarms, which have a lifespan of 10 years. 

This is Fire Prevention Week in Canada and right across North America, a time to educate the public about fire safety. 

This year, raising awareness around the fact smoke alarms expire and need to be replaced, is the primary focus, in order to keep everyone safe. 

It only took a matter of seconds for flames to rage out of control. Fire crews worked quickly to knock down a blaze inside a Sahali townhouse earlier this month. 

"It happens so fast and unless you've really experienced it, you don't realize how fast fire moves," says Chief Fire Prevention Officer Dean Olstad. 

Every year across Canada fire kills on average eight people each week, with residential fires accounting for nearly three-quarters of those fatalities. Which is why Kamloops Fire Rescue is using the next few days, as an opportunity to raise awareness around the importance of a working smoke alarm.

"It's absolutely crucial to have a working smoke alarm early notification means you can do something about it, exit the building, call 911, all sooner rather than having the fire be too large and a possibility of someone being injured."

This year's Fire Prevention Week theme is 'Don't wait check the Date' focusing on replacing smoke alarms every 10 years. After that, the sensing devices begin to degrade. 

With most fires happening in the overnight hours when people are sleeping, it's the number one life-saving measure. Smoke spreads fast and fire officials recommend installing a smoke alarm on every floor of your home, including the bedrooms.

"You don't know where a fire's going to occur, so if you sleep with your door closed, if it happens in your bedroom you get notified sooner, or if it happens outside then the one int he hallway will notify, as long as they're interconnected that's the best recommendation to have one on every floor."

In Kamloops, there's a fire death roughly every two years. And while that statistic is below the provincial average, residents are urged to be mindful of prevention and safety. This week firefighters will visit local schools to educate kids on taking the necessary steps to keep families safe. 
 
"If they grow up with it, they're more likely to do it and it goes home to the parents as well, to re-look at their house again, smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, whatever the theme or message is it's another opportunity for them to be involved," says Olstad.

Test your smoke alarm once a month and if it's expired, replace it immediately and take the old device to Fire Hall 1 in Sahali, where it can be recycled.

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