A tragic reminder of a smoke alarm’s importance

At the beginning of December, Ontario Fire Marshal Jon Pegg shared a message, pleading with people to ensure they have working smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms.

I don’t like to deliver bad news, especially during the holiday season. However, the plea comes after eight lives in Ontario were tragically lost from fire in the first six days of December.

We are in the peak season for home fires, with the top causes being unattended cooking, heating equipment and electrical equipment.

Let’s look out for one another. Here’s what you can do.

  • Don’t be shy; look up. Whether it’s your own home, a friend's house or a neighbour's place, working smoke alarms are required by law. It’s not just a matter of pushing a test button or changing the batteries. Alarms, both smoke and CO, expire and must be replaced at least every 10 years. No matter the power source, battery or hard-wired, alarms expire. Make sure there are working smoke alarms on every level of your home and CO alarms outside sleeping areas.
  • Stay present. Unattended cooking remains the top cause of home fires in Burlington and in Ontario. Always remain in the kitchen when you are cooking. If you are baking, set a timer both on the stove or on your phone. Avoid cooking if you are tired or have taken medication that may make you drowsy.
  • Know the limit. Overloaded extension cords or circuits can overheat and start a fire. If you are connecting strings of lights, read the manufacturer's instructions and avoid connecting more than three strands. Only purchase products from reputable sources, retail outlets and look for the marking of an accredited certification agency. This will appear on the product label or in the description.

Most fires are preventable, and it’s up to all of us to keep each other safe and to prevent any other tragic losses from happening.

This holiday season, let’s look up, stay present and keep fire safety at top of mind.

Corry Holloway is the public education officer for the Burlington Fire Department. She can be reached at firedepartment@burlington.ca.


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