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What to do when every second counts

Gary Sparkes, Fire Chief Jerry Musseau and Ed Reid
Gary Sparkes, Fire Chief Jerry Musseau and Ed Reid

PORT AUX BASQUES, NL – This Sunday, Oct. 8, marks the start of Canada’s annual Fire Prevention Week.

On behalf of the Channel-Port aux Basques Fire Department, Fire Chief Jerry Musseau has a few tips to offer again this year.

The chief encourages people to change the batteries in their smoke detectors twice a year, whenever they adjust their clocks to compensate for Daylight Savings Time. He recommends testing batteries every month, and the detectors themselves should be replaced at least every 10 years.

“It’s a good practice to get into, so now you know your batteries are always fresh,” said Musseau. “The smoking alarms are part of the home escape plan, which is part of our fire prevention theme this year, which is Every Second Counts: Plan Two Ways Out.”

Musseau says alarms are always a home’s first line of defense, and that people need to devise a second exit in case the front door is cut off. For homes without a back door, that could mean climbing out a window. For those on the second floor, Musseau recommends buying a portable ladder, which is easy to store and would just hook over a windowsill in case of emergency.

“You should make a plan and ensure that everyone in your house knows about the plan,” says Musseau, who also recommends practicing the plan twice a year, once at night and once during the day, “especially with kids.”

Part of that plan may include tasking someone to take care of another family member such as an infant or a grandparent. Make sure the plan includes a rallying point too, so that once everyone is out of the house they are quickly accounted for. And as you exit, if it’s possible, shut the doors and windows behind you. Without oxygen, a fire is much easier to extinguish.

“When you get out of the house, obviously you’re going to stay out. We don’t recommend you going back for any pets or anything else,” says Musseau.

Now that colder weather is here, Musseau advises that folks get their heating sources checked.

“Have your chimney cleaned and inspected. Your furnace should be inspected.”

For those with electric heaters, it’s a good idea to check around them and make sure that nothing has been placed too close during the warmer months that might spark a fire once they’ve been turned back on.

“We’re trying to stress to people, the best number to call, the quickest number to call, is 911,” says Musseau.

The local number will still work, but a live 911 operator can offer advice and provide clear direction while the firefighters are en route. And be sure that your civic number is clearly marked, especially if you live in the older areas of town. It will allow the fire crews to reach you and your loved ones much faster.

Twitter: @tygerlylly

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