THUNDER BAY – Since January 1, 2020, fire fatalities across Ontario have increased by 65% compared to the same time last year. There have been 17 people in Ontario dying in fires in March alone. Between January 1 and May 4, 2019, there were 31 fire fatalities in Ontario. Over that same period this year, there have been 51 fire fatalities. Thunder Bay has had 1 fire death so far in 2020.
Thunder Bay Fire Rescue Acting Fire Chief Greg Hankkio wants to remind everyone how important it is to keep fire safety as a priority.
“I urge you to be vigilant in preventing fires in your home, especially now with so many people at home practicing physical distancing because of COVID-19,” says Acting Chief Hankkio.
“Only you can make sure these types of tragedies do not happen in Thunder Bay,” continues Acting Chief Hankkio. “You need to do everything you can to prevent a fire in your home.”
There are simple things that you can do to prevent a fire from happening in your home and ensure that everyone knows what to do if a fire starts.
- Always stay in the kitchen when you are cooking. Unattended cooking is a leading cause of home fires.
- Keep a close eye on anyone drinking alcohol and attempting to cook or smoke.
- Encourage smokers to smoke outside the home and outside the garage. Thoroughly extinguish all smoking materials in water or sand.
- Always blow out candles before leaving the room.
- Avoid overloading electrical outlets. Extension cords should be used only as a temporary connection. Avoid running electrical cords under rugs, which can damage the cords and cause a fire.
- Ensure items that can burn are at least one metre away from space heaters.
- Do not attempt to sterilize or decontaminate face masks for re-use by heating them in a microwave oven. Various fabric or metal components can overheat or create sparks and cause a fire if heated in a microwave.
Make sure your alarms work:
- Test smoke alarms monthly by pressing the test button. Only working smoke alarms can give you the early warning you need to safely escape a fire in your home.
Practice your home fire escape plan:
- Ensure everyone knows two ways out of each room, if possible.
- All exits must be unobstructed and easy to use.
- Determine who will be responsible for helping young children, older adults and anyone who needs assistance to escape.
- Choose a meeting place outside, such as a tree or a lamp post, where everyone can be accounted for.
- Call the fire department from outside the home, from a cell phone or a neighbour’s home.
- Once out, stay out. Never re-enter a burning building.
- If you live in an apartment or high-rise building talk to the building superintendent to learn about the emergency procedures outlined in the building’s fire safety plan.