The Council of Canadian Fire Marshals and Fire Commissioners, together with the Office of the Fire Commissioner for British Columbia have announced a major initiative tackling youth fire safety nationwide.
The British Columbia Fire Commissioner’s Office is among 11 provinces and territories working together to arm teachers with unique lesson plans that encourage every Canadian household to test and replace their smoke alarms during the 92nd annual Fire Prevention Week, October 5 to 11.
The Fire Marshals and Fire Commissioners expect to engage thousands of primary-school teachers across Canada who will teach special lessons to upwards of 100,000 students as part of a broad scope of Fire Prevention Week activities under its North American-wide theme “Working Smoke Alarms Save Lives: Test Yours Every Month!” Lesson plans, distributed by The Council of Canadian Fire Marshals and Fire Commissioners through Scholastic Canada, will be supported by the local efforts of fire departments and the campaign’s educational website safeathome.ca.
Gordon Anderson, Fire Commissioner for the Province of British Columbia, says, “We’re thrilled to have the fire departments from all across B.C. involved. Fire departments and teachers have long had a special partnership that leaves a lasting impression on students, one that can prevent tragedies years down the road.”
Duane McKay, president of the Council of Canadian Fire Marshals and Fire Commissioners (CCFMFC) says, “Fire safety programs that focus on our youth have a two-prong benefit. The lessons deliver the fire safety fundamentals that youngsters need to know to safely escape a burning home, and, the kids help motivate Moms and Dads to make smoke alarm maintenance and replacement a higher priority. “
‘The potential benefits of a successful national outreach are enormous,” McKay adds. “In over one-half of fatal fires, investigators typically find no working smoke alarms.”
Parents should watch for “test and replace” homework pages which include a home fire escape planning sheet and a safety checklist.
Once completed, parents and youngsters can go online to safeathome.ca/testandreplace to register their home and download a certificate of completion for the child to take back to class.
The complete homework kit is also available for download.
Safeathome.ca also provides helpful tips for testing and maintaining smoke alarms, when to replace alarms, and where to install them.
In most jurisdictions across Canada, smoke alarms are required on every storey of the home and outside all sleeping areas.
Carol Heller is a home safety expert with Kidde Canada, a CCFMFC partner. She says educational campaigns help correct widespread misconceptions about smoke alarms, in particular, that they can be installed and forgotten about and never need to be replaced.
People also mistakenly believe, she says, that so long as a smoke alarm beeps when the test button is pushed, that the alarm is fully functioning.
“Old habits can lead to a tragedy,” says Heller. “Testing smoke alarms should be done monthly and batteries should be replaced at least once annually, whether the alarm is battery powered or is hardwired with battery backup. And even if the alarm sounds when you push the test button, if it is more than 10 years old it must be replaced as cooking and dust deteriorate the sensor over time. Outdated alarms might not provide the protection you count on.”
New technology is easing the responsibility of the once-per-year battery replacement rule. “Worry-Free” smoke and carbon monoxide and combination smoke/CO alarms feature 10-year lithium batteries which never need to be changed and last the full life of the alarm.
More campaign details are available at www.safeathome.ca/testandreplace. The initiative continues throughout the month of October.