By Tyler J. Moffitt
The Safety Advocate
September is upon us and my kids have been in high school for two weeks now.
Thousands of other people are attending college and university. For many students, it is their first time being away from home for any length of time.
Parents, guardians, and students themselves should take an active role in finding a safe place to live.
As well, it’s essential for caregivers and students to talk about fire and life safety.
•Look while you cook
Always stay in the kitchen when cooking, as cooking requires constant attention.
Any distractions like cellphones, hand-held devices, computers, or televisions can lead to a tragic cooking fire.
•Candle with care
Keep candles away from anything that can burn. As well, place them in a safe, sturdy holder with a glass shade or hurricane chimney.
Remember to place them where they cannot be knocked over and blow them out when you leave the room.
•Keep an eye on drinkers
Alcohol is a common factor in many fire fatalities involving cooking and smoking.
If someone smokes inside, use large, sturdy ashtrays that can’t be easily tipped over. Ashtrays should be emptied into a metal container; not the garbage can.
Check around furniture cushions after people have been smoking, especially if they have been drinking.
•Use electricity wisely
Appliances and devices should be plugged directly into an outlet. If you must use an extension cord, buy one that is the correct gauge for the appliance and has a CSA or ULC approval mark on the label.
CSA or ULC approved power bars may be used for stereo equipment, computers, and lights.
•Clear the clutter
Always keep things that burn away from heat sources like stovetops, space heaters, and electronic equipment.
As well, keep space heaters at least one metre or more away from bedding, furniture, and curtains.
•Working smoke alarms
Your room or apartment must have working smoke alarms. Test them monthly by pushing the alarm test button, and notify the landlord immediately if they’re not working.
Dead batteries must be replaced right away!
Nuisance alarms can be avoided by making sure smoke alarms are not located too close to the kitchen or bathroom. Consider getting a smoke alarm with a hush feature.
Smoke alarms need to be checked after any extended absence, such as Christmas break and reading week.
•Plan your escape
Know two ways out of your room or apartment in case of fire. Identify all exits and make sure you can use them.
If you live in a high-rise, familiarize yourself with the building’s fire safety plan.
If you discover fire, call the fire department from a safe location outside.
•Be ready and equipped
To stay safe, all students should put together a package that includes a smoke alarm and carbon monoxide alarm, a battery-powered lantern or flashlight and radio, extra batteries, and a CSA or ULC approved power bar.
Safety—we can all make a difference!
Tyler J. Moffitt is a part-time firefighter and emergency responder, as well as a continuous improvement advocate.